Monday, December 30, 2013

Here's to a great NEW YEAR!

As 2013 wounds down, I turn my thoughts to an optimistic new year for all of us. I have finished Sticking Point, the last of the Logan Hunter series, and spent time with family and friends during the Christmas season.

As I wait for the new mystery's release, I've begun work on a laborious task: researching a medieval ancestor who was a Knight of the Bath. My hope is to write a novel about Sir Geoffrey Plantagenet and how he became a knight. I have 24 books that I've collected, and I can already tell that this will be the biggest challenge I've ever had during my writing career. Please weigh in if you have experience with historical fiction. I need all the help I can get.

Now that the holiday season is nearly over, I invite authors and industry experts to once again submit blog tours or answer a few questions about writing and the latest book. Fresh material will begin on January 6th. I hope you'll stayed tuned and comment when you can. We love to hear from you and appreciate your thoughts and feedback. Thank you for the support!


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Giving thanks

As Thanksgiving approaches once again, I'd like to extend my warmest wishes to all who venture over to my blog and continue to support me in so many ways. I hope you all have the most meaningful holiday season ever.

My editor has the Sticking Point manuscript in her hands and promises to have it back to me next week. Of course I want to drop everything else and "fix" it and get it off to the publisher. Sticking Point is the fifth and final novel in the Logan Hunter series. While I absolutely love Logan and most of the characters who've shown up over the course of the series, I feel that this book brings her full-circle and seems a great place to leave her behind and move on to other projects.  

Having said that, I am decorating for Christmas now, a little earlier than usual, but I'm not as fast as I once was and I have oodles of stuff. Christmas is my favorite time of year because it brings out the best in everyone and and provides many opportunities to hug and tell folks we love  and appreciate them. Let me state here and now how much you guys mean to me. Stay tuned for a late January Sticking Point release.  This cover is a photograph taken by North Carolina's own Jason Penland. Isn't it gorgeous?

Monday, October 21, 2013

An interview with Mary L. Tabor

It is my pleasure to introduce you to the online magazine 
Shelf Unbound: What to read next in independent publishing,
a mag we all need to know about, and to Mary L. Tabor, whom publisher and editor Margaret Brown interviewed.

Shelf Unbound book review magazine, a 2013 Maggie Award finalist for Best Digital-Only Publication, reaches more than 125,000 readers in the U.S. and in 59 other countries around the globe. Subscriptions to Shelf Unbound are free at

Margaret Brown discovered Mary’s novel at the Manhattan Book Expo in fall 2012 and was so taken by the book she decided to profile Mary in the magazine. Brown has graciously agreed to allow me to reprint that interview here.

 But first a bit more about Mary: She’s the author of the novel Who by Fire, the memoir (Re)Making Love: a sex after sixty story and the connected short stories The Woman Who Never Cooked. She’s profiled in Poets&Writers, the Sept/Oct 2013 issue in the article “From Corporate to Creative: Leaving a career to Pursue an MFA.”
Mary was honored at the Hyman S. & Freda Bernstein Jewish Literary Festival’s Local Author Fair at the DCJCC on 16th Street, NW (1529 16th Street NW), on Sunday, October 13, at 7:00 PM. We all send her our heart-felt congratulations on this competitive achievement.

Mary also has a radio show on Rare Bird Blogtalk Radio and she interviewed Margaret Brown after the interview below ran. You can listen to Margaret Brown and Mary Tabor talking live.

Here’s Margaret’s interview with Mary published originally 12 February/March 2013 Unbound 13:

Outer Banks Publishing Group

Shelf Unbound: You have your main character creating the story of his deceased wife’s affair through memory and invention. It’s a novel approach to narrative — how did you arrive at it?

Mary L. Tabor: It’s fascinating to me that you use these two words memory and invention. Robert invents the story he didn’t know as he tries to discover what his wife actually did while she was alive. Perhaps the biggest risk I take in the novel is that use of invention. But I still have to make clear to the reader that real time, what I call the “now” or the present action of the story, is always operating, driving the plot forward, driving my narrator Robert forward. As Robert and I invented the story he didn’t know, my own memories invaded as they inevitably
will for the writer of any story. Memory

Mary L. Tabor’s
ingeniously constructed
and emotionally rich
Who by Fire has a
middle-aged widower
traversing the downward
spiral of his marriage.
Highly recommended
for your book club.

by its very nature is flawed, but the need to revisit memory over and over again is part and parcel of being human and alive. Revisiting memory is the way we search for meaning in our lives, for the narrative of who we are and who we might become. In some sense, we’re inventing. But in fact we’re searching for emotional truth. As writers, we aspire to find that. When fiction rings true like a bell, we believe it.

Shelf: The story reveals the fissures in two marriages. You’ve written about marriage before — what interests you about the subject?

Tabor: The ultimate challenge to our humanity gets played out day in and day out in marriage.  When E.M. Forster asserts in the epigraph to Howard’s End, “Only connect…”, he sets the challenge for all of us. In a committed relationship with another, whether there be a contract or not, we romantics hope for transcendence in love. But, of course, our flawed humanity that includes the baggage of our past gets played out in daily living. It gets played out in the ordinary: buying the groceries, commuting, sweeping up the messes that occur again and again. The only way through all that, I think, is to believe that transcendence in love comes hand-in-hand with the transformation of one’s self — not the other, not the beloved. But that’s only part of my answer. Marriage as subject provides for me a solid place to search for answers about the meaning of existence. Not to get too philosophical on you, but the search for meaning is the reason I write — and read.

Shelf: One of the main female characters is named Evan. I’m wondering why you chose a masculine name for her?

Tabor: Until you asked me, I hadn’t realized Evan is a male name. The unconscious mind is tricky, isn’t it? I love the character Evan more than anyone else in the book. The answer might be as simple as this: As I’m heterosexual, perhaps I unconsciously gave her that name.

Shelf: You’ve taught creative writing. What did you learn in the process of writing this book that you would share with your students?

Tabor: Save everything. I think most writers are hoarders. When a student has told me after a workshop that he’s going to trash a story, I’ve reacted in horror, but until I wrote this book,  I’m not sure I fully understood why. Many years ago, I read an article in the newspaper about a baby’s bones found in a suitcase in the attic of a house after it had been sold on Veazey Street in DC. I cut it out and saved it. Didn’t know why, just couldn’t forget it. Later I wrote a short story about what might have happened and titled it “The Suitcase.” That story, reenvisioned, became a key part of the novel.

Shelf: You recently posted on your blog: “I’ve written a novel entitled Who by Fire, ten years in the making, and I’m pretty sure not many folks will ever hear of it or read it.” What would it mean to you if people did read it?

Tabor: I know from all your questions that you understand the risks, the unusual structure of this novel. If it ever got read, I would cry because I’d be so indebted to those readers, as I am to you. I would cry in gratitude.

Follow Mary on Twitter.
Like her on Facebook.
Visit her website.
Join her book club on Goodreads.

Folks, let's make Mary cry! lol  Read her books!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Patricia Gligor's Mixed Messages

Patricia Gligor is a Cincinnati native. She enjoys reading mystery/suspense novels, touring and photographing old houses and traveling. Mixed Messages and Unfinished Business, the first two novels in her Malone Mystery series, were published by Post Mortem Press. Both books are available at Amazon, B&N and other fine retailers. She has just sent Desperate Deeds, the third book in her series, to her publisher. Look for it early next year.

Welcome back to the blog, Patricia. How has your environment affected your writing?

I live on the west side of Cincinnati, the setting for the first three novels in my mystery series. When I think back to my childhood, I realize that it’s no wonder I became a mystery writer. My parents, younger brother and I lived in an old two-story house with all kinds of good places to play Hide’n Seek. The basement was an especially scary place; the foundation had thick stone walls, a fruit cellar and a coal bin. We had a large backyard and, at the end of it, a woods extended as far as the eye could see with a cemetery just barely visible in the distance. It was the perfect breeding ground for a young girl, who loved to read Judy Bolton and Nancy Drew mysteries, to develop a fertile imagination.

It certainly sounds like it. How many books have you written?

I’ve written three books to date. I had attempted to write two other novels (not mysteries) before I wrote Mixed Messages but neither of them sustained my interest long enough for me to finish them. Now, the characters in my Malone mystery series refuse to let me go.

I understand that. Give a short synopsis of Mixed Messages.

“It’s estimated that there are at least twenty to thirty active serial killers in the United States at any given time. There’s one on the loose on the west side of Cincinnati.

It’s the week of Halloween and Ann Kern struggles with several issues. Her primary concern is her marriage which, like her west side neighborhood, is in jeopardy. Her husband is drinking heavily and his behavior toward her is erratic. One minute, he’s the kind, loving man she married and, the next minute, he’s cold and cruel.

Ann dismisses a psychic’s warning that she is in danger. But, when she receives a series of ominous biblical quotes, she grows nervous and suspicious of everyone, including her own husband.

As the bizarre and frightening events unfold, Ann discovers a handmade tombstone marked with her name, pushing her close to the edge. Will she be the Westwood Strangler’s next victim?”

You have my attention. How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in your books?

That’s an interesting question. Before I began writing novels, I wrote a lot of short stories. When I look back over them, I realize there was a lot of “me” in the characters. I thought I had gotten that out of my system but, as I develop the characters in my series, I see bits and pieces of “me” in some of them. Sometimes, that’s a positive thing and other times . . . . J

You know, that raises an interesting question. My husband tells people he doesn’t know where are my macabre characters come from and that he sleeps with one eye open. I sometimes scare myself, having no idea where the graphic violence in some scenes came from. For example, if Just North of Luck, my second novel, became a movie, I’m not sure I could watch it. I have to wonder how many other writers feel the same way about some of their work.

Do your characters take on a life of their own? If so, which is your favorite?

Although I’m a plotter, my characters always have the final say and, as I write, my outline becomes more of a guideline.
It’s difficult to pick a favorite character. I love seventy-nine year old, Olivia, because, even though she’s been through a lot of hard times in her life, she hasn’t let any of that make her bitter. She’s a kind, generous, loving person.
I’m also partial to my main character, Ann Kern, who, as the series progresses, grows from the shy, nervous wife of an alcoholic to a stronger, more assertive woman.

Where do you store ideas for later use: in your head, in a notebook, or on a spreadsheet?

I am a note-maker! I never trust storing ideas in my head. They would rattle around in there and quite possibly end up lost. So, I keep pen and paper handy at all times. When I first have an idea for a book, I jot it down on a scrap of paper. As the stack of papers begins to grow, I condense them onto one page, which becomes two, three, etc. Finally, I create my chapter by chapter outline. Then, I begin to write. It’s a long process but it seems to be the only one that works for me.

Can you tell us your future writing goals/projects?

My next writing project will be the fourth book for my Malone mystery series and there will be a change in locale. The Kern family will visit Ann’s sister, Marnie, and her boyfriend, Sam, who live near Charleston, South Carolina. It promises to be an exciting vacation!
At some point in the future, I want to write a standalone novel or two, in addition to continuing my series.

Are your books available in print and eBook formats?

Yes, Susan, they are. Here’s the link to my author page:

Thanks for inviting me to be here today.

Nice to have you back. Continued success!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

An Invitation

I invite any followers of this blog to contact me about being a guest here. I welcome not only writers but other industry experts and avid readers. It's always nice to get all perspectives. 


Monday, September 30, 2013

Mary L. Ball's Stone of Destiny

Mary L. Ball enjoys weaving together Inspirational Suspense and Mystery Novels blended with romance. 
She is a member of ACFW and lives in North Carolina between the wondrous mountains and beautiful beaches. When Mary isn’t writing or babysitting her grandsons, she enjoys supporting her husband’s ministry, fishing, hiking or reading a good novel. I had the pleasure of meeting Mary in person a few years ago.
Welcome, Mary and congratulations on the new book!

Thanks, Susan.

How many books have you written?

I have three books out. Escape to Big Fork Lake, my debut novel and Stone of Destiny –my newest released. Prism Book Group publishes those novels. I also have a non-fiction eBook titled The Writers Handbook of Online Promotion

Give a short synop of your most recently published book.

Can a mysterious ring change lives?

Taylor Harrison has given up on everything but her work. The youngest CEO of Mugful’s Beverage Company, her life is complete. That is, until her grandmother asks her to oversee renovations at the family home and find the missing heirloom.
First contact with what she believes is an insignificant ring, lost for fifty years, sends her life spinning. Taylor experiences strange dreams. Feelings surface; she doesn't understand; thoughts that should remain unspoken, voiced. 
Taylor’s emotional journey begins, testing a heart as cold as the ring itself.
Is this a fairy-tale or her soul, reaching out for a life she can only find through faith and trust in God?  

How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?

This book is totally fiction except for the faith aspect, that part I draw from myself.  
What challenges did you face while writing this book?

Some may see this novel as a bit odd for an Inspirational read, but I wanted readers to get a sense of the spiritual power attained by faith and prayer. It was a challenge for me to bring that knowledge out and have the book focusing on dreams and visions.   
Can you tell us your future writing goals/projects?

I’m working on a fiction novel about a man and his struggle to find the strength to fight alcoholism. 

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

Are your books available in print and ebook formats? 

My books are available in both print and eBook.

Escape to Big Fork Lake

Barnes & Noble

Prism Book Group

All romance Ebooks

Stone of Destiny


Barnes & Noble
All Romance Ebooks

Prism Book Group

The Writers Handbook of online Promotion is available as eBook at:

Good luck with the book, Mary, and keep in touch!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Susan Sloate's STEALING FIRE

In glittery 1980’s Los Angeles, Beau Kellogg, a brilliant lyricist now reduced to writing advertising jingles, yearns for one last Broadway hit to compensate for his miserable marriage and disappointing life.
Amanda Harary, a young singer out of sync with her contemporaries, dreams of appearing in Broadway musicals while she holds down a day job at a small New York hotel.
When the two meet in a late-night phone conversation over the hotel switchboard, it’s the beginning of something neither has ever found—an impossible situation that will bring them both unexpected success, untold joy and piercing heartache... until they learn that some connections, however improbable, are meant to last forever.
STEALING FIRE is, at its heart, a story for romantics everywhere, who believe in the transformative power of love. Today I welcome my friend, Susan Sloate, back to the blog after a long absence.

Susan Sloate is the author or co-author of 20 published books, including 17 young-adult books and the 2003 #6 Amazon bestseller, FORWARD TO CAMELOT (with Kevin Finn), which took honors in 3 literary competitions and was optioned by a Hollywood company for film production. Her most recent novel, STEALING FIRE, hit #2 on the Amazon bestseller list within 24 hours, more than a month before its official publication date. She invented a new genre – the self-help novel – for REALIZING YOU (with Ron Doades), which will be published later this year. FORWARD TO CAMELOT (50th Anniversary Edition) will be published in late October and will include new material added to the original manuscript.

Susan lives outside Charleston, South Ccarolina. Visit her online at

Welcome, Susan.  Give a short synopsis of your most recent book.

Susan, thank you for inviting me to your blog this week! I really appreciate the chance to connect with you and your readers!

My most recent book, STEALING FIRE, is a love story between two unlikely soulmates – a Broadway lyricist/librettist now living in L.A., writing advertising jingles and yearning for more one hit in a theater now dominated by Andrew Lloyd Webber, and a young woman working toward a singing career on Broadway while holding down a day job in a small New York hotel. They clash in their first conversations over the phone but later begin to talk in depth and discover that each has something to offer the other.

How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?

It’s taken me awhile to realize – because I write in multiple genres – that the unifying factor in all my fiction seems to be that the heroine is always some facet of me! (Embarrassing, but true. And I’m sorry to say it’s not hidden – most of my friends can spot it at once!) Amanda in STEALING FIRE is the young me; Cady in FORWARD TO CAMELOT is the idealized version of me – we have lots of similarities but she’s also more glamorous, more resourceful, more courageous – everything I’d love to be. Lindy in THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL (a novel I’m working on) is me at a more mature level. I had no idea for a long time that that was the case. No wonder I was drawn to write all those stories!!

What challenges did you face while writing this book?

STEALING FIRE presented a lot of challenges, because it took me so long to write. I had a relationship very similar to Beau and Amanda’s when I was in my mid-20’s, and it was so painful that I started writing about it. I didn’t have anything in mind at the time; just sat down in front of my IBM Selectric (yes, really) and started typing. This was spring of 1983, and the book is finally being published now, in the summer of 2013 – a 30-year gestation! Crazy!

Anyway, I wrote the way I often write when I’m starting a project – just wrote whatever scene came to mind, no matter where in the story it actually took place. I had no big overview in my mind, just focused on whatever scene I was working on. When I got my first computer in 1988, I re-typed the whole manuscript into the computer – but in those days Word files could only hold so much data, so I put a chapter in each file. What that really meant was that I had no idea how much material I was accumulating. And at some point, I stopped writing because the relationship was long over, the guy was out of my life and I figured I didn’t need to write anymore. And I actually didn’t know how to go on with the book from there. But I never deleted the files. (Writers don’t get rid of anything we write, even if it’s our first kindergarten doodles.) At that point, the challenge was not understanding the relationship enough to stand back and comment on it.

I transferred the files to whatever new computer I got, but left them alone, and then around 1997 found them in a cache of old files on a new computer. At that point I was able to combine the files into one, and incredibly, I had 275 pages of unfinished manuscript there – way too many to discard, and I loved the novel, unfinished and raw as it was. But I still didn’t know how to finish it, and since at that point I thought I’d learned the lessons of the relationship, didn’t see the point of trying. I wasn’t throwing the files out, but I still didn’t know what to do with them.

Then in December 2004, I actually spoke once more to the guy I’d been in love with. He was dying of cancer, but after 20 years of silence, within half a minute on the phone things were just the same as they’d always been – all the chemistry, all the excitement, was right there. Amazing. It brought back joy, but also a lot of pain. And during that short period – about six months that we were in touch – I wrote more pages on STEALING FIRE, because I was beginning to see more of his point of view and learn more of his life, which he’d always kept hidden from me.

Wow! Interesting story, for sure.

He died in 2007, and later that year I heard about the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest, which was being run for the first time. I could enter STEALING FIRE – if I could get it in coherent shape in about a week. Well, in that week, I cut 100 pages, wrote 100 new pages, did bridges between certain sections, and turned the manuscript in to the contest about 30 minutes before it closed. It still needed work, but it was at that point substantially finished. And being older and having lived through the last of the relationship, I felt I understood much more of the dynamics involved.

The novel made the first cut in the 2008 contest, and when I entered it in the 2012 ABNA contest it made Quarter-Finalist (top 5%). I kept thinking I had to finish and publish it, but until this year, it didn’t happen. Then I finally resolved to get this off my plate once and for all, and when Drake Valley Press approached me to publish it, it seemed like the perfect partnership.

What did you bring to the writing of this book from your own life?

Of course I brought the relationship itself, with all that chemistry and excitement and tenderness. I also brought a lifelong love of the musical theater. My mother had been a singer herself, had lived in New York during the golden era of Broadway musicals – the late ‘40s, early ‘50s – and wanted to sing on Broadway. I grew up on her stories of life in New York at that time, along with all the show scores she knew, and as I grew up and found new scores, I learned those as well. I can still sing most of Rodgers & Hammerstein, Rodgers & Hart, Cole Porter, Gershwin, Lerner & Loewe, Jule Styne – this stuff is in my blood.

What’s interesting too is that it’s also in my family. On my father’s side, there was a guy named Fred, who worked in a shoe store but really wanted to write song lyrics. Well, my family didn’t get this – they all started their own businesses, made products, did well financially that way. A songwriter? What was that?

Everyone told Fred to stick with the shoe store job – he might someday become, oh, the manager, or something. But Fred had a partner who wrote songs, and they worked with this young girl who had lots of energy and a great voice. They did this off-Broadway show together that flopped.

But the family stopped teasing Fred the night he got them house seats for his new Broadway musical, CABARET. It was a huge hit, and Fred and his partner, John Kander, went on to write CHICAGO, ALL THAT JAZZ, FUNNY LADY and a song called “New York, New York”, which did pretty well. The woman who introduced that song was the young girl he’d worked with all those years ago, Liza Minnelli. And Kander & Ebb are considered legends in the musical theater.

What do you think is the greatest lesson you’ve learned about writing so far? What advice can you give new writers?

If I have to choose one piece of advice, I’ll side with Stephen King: learn your craft. Learn what the components of a story are, and find stories that do those well and those that do them badly – and understand the difference. Then work at doing it yourself, and keep doing it, to refine your craft and constantly get better.

It is not professional to say that you’ve got an artistic temperament and you just want to fly by the seat of your pants and be creative. You certainly should do that at times – it’s great for you creatively – but you should also know how to spell. Know how to punctuate. These are the tools of your craft. Don’t leave them to someone else (who might also get them wrong, and make you look like an amateur). I’m very picky about how words look on a page – in fact, I’m convinced that part of the pleasure of the reader’s experience is how he or she sees the words on the page – so I’m careful about paragraphing, sentence structure, all that stuff. It’s not thrilling, but I want readers to want to read my books over and over, and if the word placement on the page enhances that experience, I think they will.  It’s a pleasure to provide a good reading experience for my readers.

I also suggest always that you understate rather than overstate – and speaking of that, don’t ever use the word ‘state’! It implies terrific weight to the words being stated, so unless you have a sentence like “The meaning of life is ______,” he stated, I don’t think you can ever use it well.

We all know how important promoting our work has become. How do you get the word out both off and online?

I post regularly on Facebook, less often on Twitter and LinkedIn (I know I should, but I don’t, alas). I also blog – my blog site is, and the title of my blog is Let the Word Go Forth.

I’m starting virtual book tours – a chance to visit a lot of websites, each for one day, where readers gather to learn about new books. I’ll be doing a couple of those tours in September and October – a new experience for me. I’m guest blogging here and with some other author friends. Also looking for both professional and customer reviews for Amazon, B&N and Goodreads. And I’m speaking at conferences and libraries in North and South Carolina.

Can you tell us your future writing goals/projects?

There’s an upcoming sequel to FORWARD TO CAMELOT, where my heroine Cady (who helps save JFK from assassination in the first book) takes on her next challenge – competing as a celebrity on a live television ballroom-dance competition. But the time travel she did in CAMELOT has affected what’s happening in the world now, and it’s somehow connected with the fact that a lot of people on her show are turning up dead …

I want to finish THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL, and I also have some young-adult fiction series I want to write – one is a boys’ mystery series based on the personalities of my two sons, and one is about the world of 1950’s New York, which my mother impressed on me in childhood. So there’s a lot on my plate in the next couple of years.

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

Please visit my website, And my blog –

I love visitors to my site and I’m happy to answer further questions!

Are your books available in print and ebook formats? 

STEALING FIRE, FORWARD TO CAMELOT and REALIZING YOU will all be available in all eBook formats, as well as in paperback.

Here’s the eBook link for STEALING FIRE on Amazon:

Monday, September 16, 2013

Margaret Blake

Margaret was born in Manchester, England, but has lived on the north west coast now for twenty years. She and husband, John moved around somewhat and lived in France for a time, Margaret lived in the USA. The greatest sadness in her life has been coping with the death of her husband. Her greatest joy has been found with her son, his wife and family.

 Margaret, it's wonderful to have you on the blog. I'm so sorry for your loss, but I'm glad you have family to see you through the difficult times.  Tell us how many books you have written.

Thank you, Susan, for the kind remarks and the opportunity. 
I started writing in l978 for a British publisher and wrote 14 books for them, I had a break from writing and then started again writing for Whiskey Creek Press. The total of books I have written is 30 and I have another two out next year.

Wow! How prolific!
Give a short synop of your most recently published book.

Under a Grecian Moon is a contemporary romance. “When Lander Drakos contacts Evie she can’t think why. When she meets him she discovers a terrible secret. Once more in Lander’s world she can’t help but feel attracted to him, yet there is betrayal and more devastating secrets. And then there is the child, Helena, who must be protected at all costs.

Do your characters take on a life of their own? If so, which is your favorite?

Quite often they do. I am usually fondest of my latest characters. I always fall in love with my heroes; I don’t think I could expect my readers to do if I don’t! I was very much in love with my hero in Tilly’s Trials, as were a lot of readers. I don’t generally like perfect people but he is about as perfect as it is possible to be without being boring!

Do you travel to do research or for inspiration? Can you share some special places with us?

I have to confess that although half of this novel is set on a Greek Island, I have never been to Greece! I was looking out of my window on a cold and drab day and decided to take myself somewhere warm. That was my inspiration for this novel. I have set a couple of novels in Spain and have never been there! Florida has been a great inspiration for me; I love the climate and the atmosphere. Magical.

What do you think is the greatest lesson you’ve learned about writing so far? What advice can you give new writers?

I think the hardest lesson I have learned, rather than the greatest, is to keep going. It doesn’t matter how many times you get knocked back you have to carry on. That is a lesson that all aspiring writers should learn. One of the greatest lessons I have learned is to believe in what you are working on at the time. If you don’t believe in it, no one else will … if you have a moments doubt, then leave it alone.

 So true, Margaret.

Can you tell us your future writing goals/projects?

I have two new novels out. One is a re-print of a previous novel and the other is a new romantic suspense called The Flower Girls. I am working on two new books, one an historical romance and the other a romantic suspense. At the moment I am trying to get the hang on my new computer. That is interrupting my flow. I am not the most technical minded of people.

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

Are your books available in print and ebook formats? (please provide the buy link for easy reader accessibility)
My books are available in print and as an e-book and are available from or Many of my British novels, published by Robert Hale Limited, can be found in libraries in the UK. As well as from www.amazoncom (these are hardbacks).

I wish you the best of sales, Margaret!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Claire Applewhite's Tennessee Plates

Claire Applewhite is a graduate of St. Louis University, where she earned an A.B. in Communications and an MBA. Currently an adjunct professor at the University of Missouri St. Louis, her published books include The Wrong Side of Memphis, Crazy For You, St. Louis Hustle, Candy Cadillac and Tennessee Plates. She has served as President of the Missouri Writers Guild, Vice-President of Sisters in Crime and as a Board member of the Midwest Chapter, Mystery Writers of America. She is actively involved in other writers’ organizations, including the St. Louis Metropolitan Press Club. For details see:

Claire, it's great to have you back on the blog. Congatulations on the new book!
Where do you live, and how has your environment affected your writing?

I live in St. Louis, Missouri, located in the heart of the country. Founded by French traders, the city possesses a rich history as “the Gateway to the West.” Nevertheless, it has been classified as one of the most dangerous cities in the U.S. Most of my stories are set in St. Louis, and are influenced by economic, racial, gender, education and employment issues.  

How many books have you written? 

I have written seven books. Of those, five are published.

Give a short synop of your most recently published book.

My most recently published book is Tennessee Plates, published by L&L Dreamspell, December, 2012.
ISBN 978-1-60318-513-1, e-book, 978-1-60318-514-1, trade paperback.

In ‘68, the hot smoke and cold eyes of ‘Nam stalked ELVIN SUGGS. Now, a blonde in a tight dress and a silver Cadillac has captured his heart, and he doesn’t want to run. Lonely and eager, he trails the temptress with a shady past, rife with corruption and lies—the girl with the Tennessee Plates.

How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?

I’ve heard it said that no one can write authentically with their hands tied up behind their back. In other words, I think an author must forget themselves and let the characters talk. I strive to do that.

Do your characters take on a life of their own? 

I think an author must climb into a character’s skin and view the world through their eyes.
Which is your favorite? 

My favorite is the character who owns the viewpoint in the scene under construction.

An awesome response, and so true for me as well.
What challenges did you face while writing this book?

Tennessee Plates concerns reconciliation with past demons. The hero finally confronts the worst times in his life, and exposes them, so that he can find peace. A major challenge existed in the balance between tragedy and humor.

Do you travel to do research or for inspiration?

I love to travel because I am very interested in other people and their traditions. I travel for both research and inspiration. Can you share some special places with us? Memphis, Nashville, New Orleans, Seaside, Florida, Palm Springs, Phoenix, the Badlands are all intriguing places with their own personalities. I love Southern cities, but I am also fascinated by deserts.

What do you think is the greatest lesson you’ve learned about writing so far?

Writing is much like acting in that the author must forget him or herself, and assume a new identity in order to express another’s viewpoints.

What advice can you give new writers?

Don’t worry about what people will think when they read your writing. If you do, you won’t get your best work.

Where do you store ideas for later use: in your head, in a notebook, or on a spreadsheet? 

I tend to collect newspaper clippings in a box and look through the box when I am plotting a new book.

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?, Goodreads, and my website,

Are your books available in print and ebook formats? 

They are all available in both formats at

Claire, thinks for taking the time to tell us about the new book. St. Louis is a beautiful city and I hope to pass that way again. 

Come on over any time, Susan.

Monday, September 2, 2013

L.A. Starks

            L. A. Starks was born in Boston, Massachusetts, grew up in northern Oklahoma reading everything, and now lives in Texas. Awarded a full-tuition college scholarship, she earned a chemical engineering bachelor's degree, magna cum laude, from New Orleans' Tulane University, followed by a finance MBA from the University of Chicago. While at Chicago she made time to play for a celebrated women's intramural basketball team, the Efficient Mockettes.

            Working more than a decade for well-known energy companies in engineering, marketing, and finance from refineries to corporate offices prepared Starks to write global energy thrillers. She continues to research, write, and consult on energy economics and investing, often speaking to professional groups for their members' continuing education credit.

            In addition to her Dreamspell publications, including a short story in the DREAMSPELL NIGHTMARES anthology, two of Starks' short stories have been published by Amazon Shorts. Her nonfiction has appeared in Mystery Readers Journal, The Dallas Morning News, The Houston Chronicle, The San Antonio Express-News, Sleuth Sayer (MWA-SW newsletter), Natural Gas, Oil and Gas Journal, and the investor website Seeking Alpha. She is also co-inventor of a US patent.

            Starks has run seven half-marathons. She serves as treasurer of the board of the Friends of the Dallas Public Library, a fund-raising and advocacy group that supports Dallas' 28-branch civic library system.

Welcome to the blog, L.A.
Where do you live, and how has your environment affected your writing?

How many books have you written?

Give a short synop of your most recently published book.
STRIKE PRICE: When several people involved in bidding for an oil refinery are murdered, the situation becomes far more than a billion-dollar business deal.

            A self-made woman, Lynn Dayton fights to save lives after escalating attacks eventually reveal a hired assassin’s plan to draw another global power into dangerous confrontation with the United States over trillion-dollar oil stakes.

            Are the killers rogue civil servants challenging the Cherokees’ financial independence, Sansei operatives again wreaking violence, or sinister investors swapping the bidding war for a real one?

            Lynn Dayton and Cherokee tribal executive Jesse Drum must learn to trust each other so they can find and stop the killers. Can sobering up really be fatal? How have so many of the deaths been made to appear accidental? Who’s creating weapons with modern poisons and ancient Cherokee arts?

How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?

Do your characters take on a life of their own? If so, which is your favorite?

What challenges did you face while writing this book?
I started this book before the first one was published. Some delay resulted from the marketing effort I put into 13 DAYS. The real challenge, however, was that my younger sister, to whom STRIKE PRICE is dedicated, became ill from and ultimately succumbed to an extremely fast-spreading type of breast cancer. During her last two years, I could only focus on Linda and my family. I couldn’t summon the drive to complete and edit the book until a little over a year ago. Fortunately, it was promptly accepted by L&L Dreamspell for publication in the spring of 2012.

Do you travel to do research or for inspiration? Can you share some special places with us?
While I don’t get advances that would allow travel only for book research, trips I make for other reasons show up in my writing. Here are a few.
Florence is popular with everyone from J.K.Rowling (remember “Firenze”?) to Dan Brown’s latest, INFERNO. When we saw the city, I was struck by its rich history as a textile center, with art funded by the Medicis. It was intriguing that the Ponte Vecchio, now home to jewelers and goldsmiths, had once housed butchers. Yet my strongest intuition was of the blank, literally insurmountable Oltrarno ancient city wall. I hope I have used the feeling to good effect in STRIKE PRICE
While I had been to London and Brighton, I wasn’t familiar with the English countryside near Chichester and Amberley Castle. We saw it while accompanying a boys’ choir tour. I wanted to convey impressions like young boys’ sweet evensong voices echoing through stately cathedrals, as well as a South Downs verdancy so vast Amberley Castle’s greens serve as a helicopter pad for its well-heeled London guests.
Closer to home, I seldom have as much time as I’d like for canoeing or kayaking, so I made a special trip with my kids to capture the sights, smells, and sounds of canoeing on the Illinois River. Despite its name, the river is located in eastern Oklahoma and serves as one of the settings in STRIKE PRICE.

What do you think is the greatest lesson you’ve learned about writing so far? What advice can you give new writers?

First, I am formally trained in engineering and finance, and auto-didactically trained—because I love reading and writing so much—in writing. These seem like opposite disciplines, but I find the importance of precision is common to them both, whether it be in design, calculations, concepts, plotlines, or descriptions.

Second, in writing, as in designing a heat exchanger, there seems to be a 50:1 ratio of wrong paths (or let’s just call them less good paths), to right paths.

Third and absolutely critical for new writers: reading one’s work with the reactions of a first reader is impossible after the fourth, fifth, or seventh self-edit. And yet nothing is more important. For me, editing of my work by other readers, and then professional editors, is key to producing a good novel.

Where do you store ideas for later use: in your head, in a notebook, or on a spreadsheet?
These days: waaay too many document files.

We all know how important promoting our work has become. How do you get the word out both off and online?

Can you tell us your future writing goals/projects?
I am excited to have begun researching and writing the third Lynn Dayton book! On the non-fiction side, I continue to write free quarterly articles about energy, a monthly subscriber energy investing newsletter, and occasional articles for the investor website Seeking Alpha.

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?
My website, , is where events are listed, book club questions are available for 13 DAYS and will be for STRIKE PRICE, a twice-yearly newsletter can be found, book trailer videos are linked, and where I have resources for writers. I welcome friends on Facebook and have a work-focused listing on LinkedIn. Most of all, please join me at Goodreads!

Are your books available in print and ebook formats? 

Amazon author page—all:

STRIKE PRICE (Print and e-book editions)
Barnes & Noble:

Independents, like Houston’s Murder by the Book:

Barnes & Noble/Nook:

Independents, like Houston’s Murder by the Book/Kobo:

13 DAYS: THE PYTHAGORAS CONSPIRACY (print edition, different publisher and cover)
Barnes & Noble:

Independents, like Houston’s Murder by the Book:

Monday, August 26, 2013

Arline Chase's Killraven

Arline Chase is something of a late-bloomer. She lives in the marsh with the mosquitoes and the muskrats. She writes some of everything and became a publisher when her own publisher became too ill to continue.

“Having a book with my name on the cover was my longtime dream.  When my first publisher, the woman who helped me fulfill that dream, asked me, I was honored to help keep her project alive. Connie Foster’s dream stayed alive as Write Words Inc./ and now I get to help others achieve their dreams as well.  Life doesn’t get much better than that.”

Welcome, Arline!
Where do you live, and how has your environment affected your writing? 

I live on the Eastern Shore of Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay. My people were island people. My environment and family history has affected most of my books. My Collection, THE DROWNED LAND, won the Governor’s Award in Maryland and my Novel, KILLRAVEN, is set locally and remains the favorite of most of my readers. Although Killraven Island is a fictional environment, the characters who live there and their cultural heritage are depicted accurately.

How many books have you written?

A dozen Novellas; one Short Story Collection; 4 nonfiction books; and 5 novels: KILLRAVEN, GHOST DANCER, SPIRIT OF EARTH, SPIRIT OF FIRE, and SPIRIT OF WIND. The Spirit Series are mysteries and feature a Baltimore police detective and his psychic younger sister.

Give a short synop of your favorite book.

Since KILLRAVEN has proven the favorite, and is loosely based on family history, if I have to pick one to feature, I think it has to be that one.

Set in the 1890s, KILLRAVEN is the story of Hope Voeschell, a young woman brought up in a cult that believes in non-violence, and DeCoursey Rogers a man who has known violence first hand, and what happens when an isolated peaceful community is confronted with a murderer. Killraven is a fictional Chesapeake Bay island, an isolated place, rich in the traditions of its independent people. The novel is based in part on characters that originally appeared in the award-winning short story collection, THE DROWNED LAND.

How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?

Well Hope (not her real name) goes back five generations in my family. She is a legend to all her descendents and was known all her life as a woman of strong character. People have also said that of me, though whether it is justified, I really can’t say.
Do your characters take on a life of their own?

Absolutely.  They go and do what pleases them and I am left to watch and wonder.

Which is your favorite?

I have a few fleeting memories of the real Hope Voeschell, who died when I was three or four.  I never knew her as an adult, except through the family stories handed down about her. But by the time I had written her book, she was very real to me.

What challenges did you face while writing this book?

I knew my story’s beginning, middle, and end. I knew my setting. But I didn’t know how to write well enough to bring off a work of that length. It took me seven years to achieve a novel length draft I felt came close to “the book in my head.” And ever after that I have had to explain it to relatives who remembered a “different version.” 

Critics complained that “there are too many widows” in the book. But island men worked the water, a dangerous occupation, and left many widows behind. So although folks suggested I combine those characters and have only one widow, all three remained and all have very different personalities, so I felt they couldn’t take on each other’s plot turns. Critics have also complained that the book is “more like a TV series” than a novel. And I suppose it is true that the island is a character in and of itself.

Do you travel to do research or for inspiration? Can you share some special places with us?

I have traveled some, but mostly I write about home. I did do a lot of research for GHOST DANCER, because it is set in Montana. I had never been to Montana, a fact I mentioned to my then-agent. “No one alive now has been to Montana in 1890, Arline,” she pointed out. “Just write the da---- book!” She had a hot new publisher and knew she could sell it if I could finish it in 90 days.  Well five year later, when I actually finished the book, the agent had forgotten my name and the Hot New Publisher had sunk without a trace. But I had learned a lot about Montana, the Piegan, and the Great Northern Railroad, so it wasn’t a total loss.

What do you think is the greatest lesson you’ve learned about writing so far? What advice can you give new writers?

Don’t pay any attention to all the people who think you can’t do it. There are plenty of folks who will always say, “You can’t.” My own mother’s reaction to the fact that I meant to write a book was, “People like us don’t write BOOKS!”

But I started with short stores and kept on writing them eventually the books came, too. I say, if you want to do something, do it!  Practice your craft and hone your skills. And do all you can to learn what you need to know.  Keep at it. Never let others trample on your dreams.

Where do you store ideas for later use: in your head, in a notebook, or on a spreadsheet?

I used to keep a notebook. Then I learned that the good ideas will come back and nag you until they get written, whether you keep an idea file or not.

We all know how important promoting our work has become. How do you get the word out both off and online?

I spend more time these days publishing other writer’s work than in writing and promoting my own. And thank you, Susan, for this opportunity to talk about my work.  I post about my own and other author’s books regularly on Facebook, and I, too, do have a blog at:

Can you tell us your future writing goals/projects?

I love historical/mysteries and probably will continue to write them.  There is at least one more installment of the Spirit Series to be completed.

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?    

On my company’s publisher web site:

and on my blog, mentioned above.

I am easy to find on Facebook, too, as I am the only Arline Chase in Cambridge, MD. I welcome all who love books among my friends.

Are your books available in print and ebook formats?

They are all on my own web site and also on at the following links:



Monday, August 19, 2013

Pearle Munn Bishop

Pearle Munn Bishop’s home has always been filled with books, stacks of them.  Pearle is a true Tar Heel as her father was born in Tar Heel, North Carolina. Most of her youth was spent in Tamahawk, in eastern North Carolina.  When she was 14, she wrote a weekly column for a local newspaper and was paid in a free subscription. 

During World War 11, she worked in Baltimore at Glen L. Martin Aircraft. She met Lyle, and they were married three weeks later.  Even when her husband’s Air Force career took the family to live in England, Germany, Japan as well as locations in the United States, the books travelled along with other household goods.  Their five children changed schools more times than she can count on two hands.  She has a nursing degree and used some of that knowledge in her novel. They retired and moved to the mountains of North Carolina, working as ski patrollers at Sugar Mountain Resort.

Welcome to the blog, Pearle.

Thank you so much, Susan.

Tell us about Cleo's Oak.

Cleo’s Oak:   Cleo, a psychic midwife from the 1800s channels her life story through Willow, an egotistical, contemporary sixteen-year-old girl.
x Does a mystical Celtic spirit live in Cleo’s oak?
x Are there really magic circles?
x Can a butterfly lead you out of deep despair?
x Can the dead tell their story through channelers?
            Cleo’s Oak contains answers to all of these questions plus sex, birth, death, marriage, war, religion, adultery and perhaps murder.
            Everyone that ever had a grandmother should read this book. You will agree that across time, human values have not changed.

I know you're the mother of Maggie Bishop, who writes fiction and went to East Carolina University about the same time I did. She obviously picked up your writing gene. Where do you live, and how has your environment affected your writing?

Yes, Maggie is my daughter. My current home is in Appalachian Brian Estates, a retirement home in Boone, North Carolina.  From my windows I see the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, clouds in the sky, birds, vapor trails, stars, moon and forest, all of which inspire me to write.  My heavy housework is done by the staff, my meals are prepared for me.  When I leave my rooms to be with other people, I find that each person has a life story and most of them want to tell it.  I am a good listener.  Unless invited, very few residents enter other people’s room.  Therefore, I have lots of uninterrupted time to write.

Sounds good to me, and I'll bet you've had lots of inspiration from other residents who've lived rich lives.

Do your characters take on a life of their own?

My character, Cleo in Cleo’s Oak, tells her story by channeling, most of the time I felt as though I just held the pen.

What do you think is the greatest lesson you’ve learned about writing so far?

The greatest lesson I learned from writing this book is that, for me, writing is fun.  Rewriting is work.  My advice for new writers is to get it down.  Clean it up later.

Can you tell us your future writing projects?

The manuscript on which I am now working features Lily who lives in Indiana, Virginia, Switzerland and the wilds of Scotland.  Somehow I do not believe this story will be channeled.  Therefore, I would like to visit the above places for research. 

Hey, call me! lol. Maybe Maggie and I "help".

Where can we find your books?

Cleo’s Oak Kindle
Cleo’s Oak Amazon Paperback
Free 1st chapter 
Amazon Author Page  

Pearle, I wish you the very best with your writing. Give Maggie a big hug for me. I hope to meet you  the next time I'm in the Boone area.