Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Tricia Hendricks - Guest Author

Please welcome fellow Kindle Scout winner Tricia Hendricks to answer ten questions today. She describes herself as quiet, thoughtful, passionate, impulsive, and spontaneous. Her writing is entertaining, accessible, humorous, character-centric, and fun. Here are her other chosen questions and answers.

Describe your most productive writing venue. What makes it best for you?

I haven't tried too many venues, honestly. I either write with my laptop on my lap, sitting on the sofa in the living room, or else I'm at my desk. I do have an Alphasmart, which is a scaled down word processor that theoretically could allow me write anywhere besides, perhaps, the ocean, but I haven't used it as much as I expected to. Perfect conditions for me are a well-lit screen and a comfortable chair. I haven't tried writing in a bookstore or coffee shop. One of these days I'll give them a go.

What is your most productive time of the day (and do you need caffeine)?

Since I write full-time and have no obligations to anyone (and because I live in Las Vegas, which is a 24-hour town), I tend to not keep any sort of schedule at all. I'm awake when I'm awake and I'm asleep when I'm not. So there's no best time for me to be writing. I'll sit at the computer all day (or night) and depending on my mindset, I'll either write immediately or I'll surf the internet for hours. I don't need caffeine to wake up, but I'll use it to stay awake if I'm on a roll, writing-wise.

How many books do you read in a typical month? Do you read in your genre while you are writing? What’s your most recent “great” book?

I'd say I average 4-5 books a month, depending on how much writing I need to do. I do read in my genre while I'm writing because it keeps me in the proper frame of mind, however I try to be cautious about not allowing what I’m currently reading to leak into what I'm writing. Often, however, this isn't an issue as I've been reading a lot of horror lately, and I haven't been able to set aside time to write any horror.

A cozy mystery is as about as far from horror as you can get! In saying all that, the latest great read for me is actually a techno-thriller: Zodiac Station by Tom Harper. He employed a non-linear storyline told from multiple points of view that kept me reading long after I'd meant to stop. [Ed. Note: I also read Zodiac Station this year and gave it my top rating.]

Name three not well-known authors you would recommend and tell us what you like about their writing.

Adrian McKinty is my favorite crime fiction writer at the moment. He's Irish and typically writes about Irish characters, although the settings can be places like America and Mexico in addition to Ireland. He writes about protagonists who are imperfect and self-reflective who take steps to do the right thing even if, as is often the case, it might kill them. I'm absolutely not a fan of the stoic, superman action hero. I need my protagonist to hurt and to doubt and to overcome himself as much as he overcomes outside forces. McKinty is criminally underrated, in my opinion. His Sean Duffy series is brilliant.

JM Guillen is a diamond in the rough. I believe he's only self-published at this time. What I like about Guillen is that he writes in several genres and he's always trying new angles. He's massively creative and I admire a writer like that, probably because I can't seem to stick to one genre either. It's easy to fall into a rut or a formula, but I think if more writers were as aggressively creative as Guillen, we'd have far more interesting books available to us. Definitely an interesting writer whom few have heard of.

Simon Kurt Unsworth is more well-known than the other two writers I've cited because his The Devil's Detective has been a hit and has been featured in many Best Books lists for the year, but I still don't think he's as known as he should be. He writes in the horror genre, which has something to do with it, as horror writers generally aren't as much a topic of discussion beyond the Big Names like King and Koontz.

Unsworth has a quiet, unassuming writing style that sneaks up on you. One moment you're admiring a poetic turn of phrase and the next you realize you're actually terrified by what's happening on the page. He's written quite a few ghost story collections that are great reads. I hope with the second book in his Detective series (The Devil's Evidence), he gains the attention he deserves.

What themes do you regularly employ in your writing?

This question is a bit tricky for me since this post is supposed to be focusing on my cozy mystery, which is the first I've ever written in that genre. In my other writing, which I do under my real name (the cozy is under a pen name), I enjoy writing about redemption and forgiveness, received from others and from oneself. I find it fascinating to explore the mindset of someone who has done something awful and desperately needs to atone for it and who needs to learn to love himself in the aftermath.

The cozy is a bit different, since it's more about the mystery and doesn't delve as deeply into characterization the way I typically do. Still, I managed to give the main character Nicholas a bit of angst because he's simply more interesting that way. I believe characterization is more important than plot, though of course you need both and they need to be strong.

What motivates you to write?

Usually I'm motivated to write a story that I desperately want to read which doesn't exist. I'm filling a void, a demand, even if it's only a personal one. Thankfully, what I want to read seems to be what a few other people want to read as well. Writing is definitely a compulsion and a pleasure, even when it hurts.

How did you develop the idea for your most recent work?

For A Festival of Murder, I wrote something that I thought was cute and quaint and inspired the need to wrap up in a blanket and settle into a soft chair with a mug of hot chocolate. That's my definition of a cozy mystery. So you've got the snowy setting in the mountains, the holidays, Nicholas' love of all the accoutrements of Christmas (eggnog, Christmas sweaters, Bing Crosby), and of course the closed environment, which is the isolated mountain town.

Having lived in that area of Colorado for a couple of years, I knew it would be a great location for the mystery that Nicholas and his neighbors face. The fact that Nicholas is a former alien abductee is a bit of fun that I think sets the mystery apart from others and allowed me to write some crazy, quirky characters.

What motivates your protagonist (if not a series, then use the protagonist of your most recent novel)? What influenced who they are today?

Nicholas Trilby is an introvert, but he is an introvert because of fear, not because it's his natural personality. He made a mistake when he was younger and shouldered a lot of blame for it, which has colored his interactions with people years later. He's afraid of that rejection again, so it's turned him into a mistrustful hermit, but in his heart, Nicholas cares for people. So when this murder happens and he begins to learn what motivated his neighbors to move out to this remote location, he begins to see them not as antagonists but as friends, which makes his investigation become more difficult as he's faced with the potential task of fingering one of them as the murderer.

Hopefully I've piqued your interest in Nicholas' story. I'd love it if you would check out A Festival of Murder, which is a Kindle Scout selection available on Amazon for the Kindle and in paperback at http://amzn.to/1OUdMgu.

Just in case you want a little more, here’s a quick blurb for A Festival of Murder: What's worse than being abducted by aliens? Not much! But being accused of murder around Christmas time is a close second...

Nicholas Trilby moved to the Colorado Rockies in search of much needed peace and quiet. Unfortunately for him, solitude made him easy pickings for a passing UFO. Now safely returned to Earth, he's a reluctant celebrity in a quirky little tourist town that insists on naming him the Guest of Honor at its annual Alien Fest.

When a hostile reporter from The Roswell Explorer is discovered dead in the nearby lake, Nicholas knows he's in trouble once again. This time it's not little green men he needs to watch out for, but a motivated detective. With the help of his odd, alien-loving neighbors, Nicholas is in a race against time to clear his name. But what if Nicholas himself is the killer—and he simply forgot?


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Cindy Blackburn - Guest Author

Please welcome fellow Kindle Scout winner Cindy Blackburn to the blog today. She describes herself as hard-working, an introvert, energetic, a klutz, and a cat-lover. Her writing is funny, cozy, lighthearted, feel-good, and screwball. Let’s see which questions she chose and how she answered them.

You have a table for four at your favorite restaurant and can invite any three people, living, dead or fictional. Who are your guests (and why) and where are you eating (and why)?

We’d eat in my favorite Italian restaurant because I love spaghetti, and apparently it’s my party. I like the idea of fictional guests. Harry Potter would be lots of fun, and with his wand in hand, who knows where the evening would lead! Miss Marple would be a useful guest for me, a cozymystery writer. She could give me some new ideas on amateur sleuths. On to actual people… How about Jim Parsons? I want to tell him how much I adore The Big Bang Theory and learn about his and Sheldon Cooper’s absolute genius use of comic timing. And number four would be Janet Evanovich. As I started writing mysteries, a friend told me I should try to write funny, like Janet Evanovich. The style and humor of her Stephanie Plum series gave me lots of incentive to give it a try. I’d like to thank her.

[Editor’s note: Cindy will apparently be serving her guests since she didn’t reserve one of the four seats for herself, but heck with those four, the conversation should be great, and Harry can do all the heavy lifting with his wand.]

Describe your most productive writing venue. What makes it best for you?

I thrive on routine, so sitting in the same spot every day really works for me. I have a comfy armchair in my living room with a place to put up my feet and put down my coffee. Unfortunately, that chair is my cat’s favorite also. She often wins the fight. And yes—she can bully me out of the coveted spot.

What is your most productive time of the day (and do you need caffeine)?

Again, I thrive on routine, and so I hit that writing chair first thing in the morning, coffee in hand. I try to write all morning, afternoons I’m fairly useless, but often right before bedtime I can get some good ideas down. If I write a little at night I find I’m more productive the next day.

How many books do you read in a typical month? Do you read in your genre while you are writing? What’s your most recent “great” book?

I probably read about a book a month. I used to read tons more, but now that I write, I read a lot less. I like to read humorous books—cozy mysteries, chicklit, anything light. I’m not into deep or dark. I know I’m WAY behind the times but have just discovered Lawrence Block’s Bernie Rhodenbarr series. Block’s The Burglar in the Closet was my latest read. Loved it!

What is the most challenging area for you as a writer? What are you doing to address the issue?

The first draft of each book is a killer. I dread first drafts! But I love revising and perfecting. So my challenge is getting through the first draft. How do I address the issue? I wish I knew. The first draft is always very slow going, but I remind myself I’ve gotten through that stage with each of my books, and once I’m there my reward will be all that fun revision stuff! {Ed. Note: I know exactly how your feel.]

What motivates you to write?

I like to make people laugh. I want to create stories that help people (especially working women with stressful lives) escape their responsibilities for a few hours. I promise you’ll find nothing edifying or educational in my books. Silliness rules.

How did you develop the idea for your most recent work?

Five Spot takes place at a romance writers conference. Any romance writers I’ve ever hung out with are great fun and very interesting people, so I knew I could make the thing funny! I’m a pantser. So once I had that premise of a murder at the Happily Ever After Conference, I started writing and let the story go where it would.

What was the best piece of writing advice you ever received and why was it so valuable?

Write every day. I guess it goes back to the old adage practice makes perfect. Also, writing every day keeps the creative juices flowing, and it’s fun to always have my latest story and characters keeping me company, day in and day out.

If you’d like to keep Cindy company, please check out her website www.cbmysteries.com, or find her on twitter (she’s a self-proclaimed fiend there!) @cbmysteries. See ya’ in cyberspace! And here is a little blurb about The Five Spot.

At long last! Jessie Hewitt is about to take her rightful spot in the Hall of Fame. No, not the one for pool sharks. This is the Romance Writers Hall of Fame. Jessie's so excited she's even convinced über-hunky cop Wilson Rye to tag along for the induction festivities. But things don't go exactly as planned. How could a conference called Happily Ever After take such a wrong turn? Take a guess.


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Rachelle Paige - Guest Aurhor

Please join me in welcoming author Rachelle Paige, a fellow Kindle Scout winner, to 10 questions and answers. She describes herself as a wife, mother, daydreamer, friend and traveler, Her writing involves small town, home, heart. romance and is flirty. Without further ado, here’s Rachelle.

You have a table for four at your favorite restaurant and can invite any three people, living, dead or fictional. Who are your guests (and why) and where are you eating (and why)?

If I could invite any three people to eat dinner with at my favorite restaurant, I would choose my grandma, my grandpa, and my grandpa’s brother Uncle Cas. They have all passed and I miss them dearly. Family means everything to me and that really came from their example. We would be eating my grandma’s lasagna and would have her famous apple pie for dessert. We wouldn’t be in a restaurant, we’d be sitting in the breakfast nook of my grandparent’s home that was built in the 1930s by my great-grandparents.

Describe your most productive writing venue. What makes it best for you?

My most productive writing venue is our office. It’s on our main floor, away from the kids’ bedrooms. And most importantly, it has a door that locks.

What is your most productive time of the day (and do you need caffeine)?

My most productive writing time is after 9pm. I’m a morning person and love getting up early. But so do my kids. I spend the whole day taking care of them and have trained myself to sit down and write at least 1000 words after they have gone to bed. Unfortunately, I’ve done such a good job adjusting to this schedule, I have a tough time working during the day when I get time on the weekends! And no, I can manage at least two hours without caffeine.

How many books do you read in a typical month? Do you read in your genre while you are writing? What’s your most recent “great” book?

In a typical month, I’ll read at least three novels. I’m always writing and love reading in my genre, romance, although I often read historical romance novels and I write contemporary. The most recent great book I’ve read was Tucked Away by Jennie Marts. It is a contemporary romance and a fun read.

What themes do you regularly employ in your writing?

The recurring theme in my True North series is home. Coming home, finding home, making a home out of difficult circumstances are a few examples that fascinate me. The phrase “you can never go home again” inspires me. Maybe you can’t go back to the home that you had in childhood or earlier in your life, but I don’t think that means that you can’t create something better.

What motivates you to write?

My kids motivate me to write. I’ve been dreaming up stories my whole life and being an author has always been a life goal. But sitting down to actually start and finish a novel didn’t happen until my first child was born. Everything sort of clicked for me and I realized how can I encourage them to work hard and go after their dreams if I’m not living that mantra.

How did you develop the idea for your most recent work?

Tiny Island Summer started out as an idea to update Pride & Prejudice and set it on Madeline Island in Lake Superior. Combining my favorite novel with my favorite place provided ample inspiration. Of course, the final book has changed a lot from my initial idea. I love how that happened in the process of writing the story.

What was the best piece of writing advice you ever received and why was it so valuable?

The best piece of writing advice I’ve ever received has been to keep writing, every day, no matter what. I started out as a pantser—someone who doesn’t necessarily have a plan for the book and lets the story go in whatever direction happens. But working with some amazing critique partners, I’ve changed course and am reformed and now plot my stories. The biggest difference I’ve noticed in plotting vs. flying by the seat of my pants is that I can keep writing even when I’m hit with writer’s block. Some days, it’s a real struggle but I know that the next scene is going to be really exciting and fun and I push through to get there.

Catch up Rachelle on her website www.rachellepaige.com, Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Rachelle-Paige-511680888981810/,  or twitter @rachellepaigebooks

And here’s a tiny bit to entice you to read Tiny Island Summer (True North Book 2)

Thanks to her job, Darcy Rogus, has been relocated to the middle of nowhere. But with her determination to succeed and her best friend by her side, nothing is going to sidetrack Darcy achieving her career goals, especially not a handsome and brooding next-door neighbor.

Ben Hampton has put his life on hold to take care of his ailing mother, and he can’t let himself get distracted by anything, even if those distractions come with enticing hazel eyes.

Staying away from each other is easier said than done on an island of fewer than three hundred people.


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Donald Trump’s War on Muslims

Taken from DonaldJTrump.com
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

~ Pastor Martin Niemöller

Donald Trump is not the United States of America’s version of Adolf Hitler. However, Hitler and his propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, would certainly understand and appreciate Trump’s tactics of gaining political support by picking on a minority religious group and telling big lies enough times they begin to sound like truth to many. Trump’s invective against the Muslims reached a new moral low when he called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.”

This pronouncement comes fast on the heels of Trump’s statement that the U.S. should “strongly consider” shutting down certain mosques in the United States (likely unconstitutional).

Trump indicated he is open to the idea of a Muslim registry because “we’re going to have to do things we never did before.” Is it much of a step from a Muslim registry to forcing Muslims to prominently display a star and crescent moon on their persons to make the rest of us aware we might not be safe in their presence?

I know; you’re thinking we would never do something like that, right? The German people never anticipated Hitler’s final solution, did they?

Your rights of free speech? Not so much if that free speech happens to infringe on The Donald’s sensibilities. When a Black Lives Matter advocate tried to interrupt one of his rallies and was reportedly pushed to the ground and kicked, his response was, “Maybe he should have been roughed up, because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing.”

We in the United States have a history or forgetting our ideals, not to mention our laws, in times of perceived national security crisis. Abraham Lincoln suspended the right of habeas corpus and ignored a Supreme Court’s ruling that his act was illegal; Roosevelt illegally interred Japanese citizens; Bush authorized torture, and Obama continued Bush’s practice of allowing illegal information gathering on U.S citizens.

Trump admits that he is willing to break international law by reinstituting President Bush’s authorization of waterboarding. He’s willing to ignore the constitution if it does not suit his purposes. He is Machiavellian with his ends-justify-the-means positions. When he has no arguments to refute his detractors he relies on ad hominem attacks against the person rather than disputing their ideas.

Trump exhibits the characteristics of a playground bully. Like any bully, the earlier we stand up to him and call out his lies, the better it will be for everyone, including Trump.


~ Jim

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Vickie Fee - Guest Author

Please welcome Vickie Fee to our Guest Author questions and answers. Vicki is not only a fellow member of the Guppy Chapter of Sisters in Crime, she is a fellow Yooper (person who lives in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan). Vickie says of herself that she is kind, funny, awkward, smart and caffeinated. Her writing is authentic, Southern, humorous, cozy and readable. It’s about this time of year that she probably wishes her location were Southern as well. Here are her choice questions and answers.

What is your most productive time of the day (and do you need caffeine)?

I’m brain-dead in the morning and routinely write in the afternoon. But my most productive writing time often ends up being in the dead of night when I can’t sleep. And yes, caffeine in the form of coffee is a major food group for me.

You have a table for four at your favorite restaurant and can invite any three people, living, dead or fictional. Who are your guests (and why) and where are you eating (and why)?

I’d have supper with the late Anne George, whose Southern Sisters mysteries are the gold standard for humorous Southern cozies in my opinion. I’d ask her for writing advice and to tell me all about the adventures of Mouse and Sister she never got the chance to write. I’d invite Elvis, since I’m from Memphis and don’t have a good Elvis story and because, Southern gentleman that he is, Elvis would surely pick up the tab for dinner and maybe even toss me the keys to a new Cadillac. My husband would also join us—I love sharing experiences with him and he enjoys seeing me happy. We’d have ribs at The Rendezvous because I don’t get to feast on real Memphis BBQ as often as I’d like.

Describe your most productive writing venue. What makes it best for you?

My computer lives in a computer armoire in our office/guestroom. It’s the most practical and productive place for me to write because the desktop is a handy spot to stack the scraps of paper I’m constantly scribbling notes on. And the armoire doors provide space to tape up index cards on top of which I affix multiple Post-It notes. This is a very sophisticated system of organization, and it’s not portable.

How many books do you read in a typical month? Do you read in your genre while you are writing? What’s your most recent “great” book?

I’m always writing something and I do read a lot of mysteries, but I’m not sure what a typical month would be. My best guess is I read from two to eight books a month depending on what else is going on in my world. Louise Penny’s most recent novel, The Nature of the Beast, was a great read because—Louise Penny. It’s a signed copy that was an anniversary gift from my husband, which is also pretty great.

What themes do you regularly employ in your writing?

The strong bonds of family, friendship and community are major themes, as is the case in many cozy mysteries, along with the desire for justice.

What motivates you to write?

The short answer would be deadlines, but that’s not the whole story. I wrote fiction for years without any real deadlines—or much encouragement for that matter—and have two awful, unsold manuscripts and a stack of rejection letters to prove it. So I must be motivated by something beyond deadlines, like stubbornness or insanity, or maybe a little of both!

What motivates your protagonist (if not a series, then use the protagonist of your most recent novel)? What influenced who they are today?

My main character, Liv McKay, is motivated by love, friendship and a fierce protective streak for those she cares about. Besides her loving, if somewhat crazy family, Liv is also deeply influenced by the strong sense of community in her hometown of Dixie.

What was the best piece of writing advice you ever received and why was it so valuable?

The worst thing you write is better than the best thing you didn’t write or don’t be afraid of a bad first draft. It’s been said a lot of different ways, but it all adds up to the same thing: Start writing and keep at it!

To connect with Vickie and learn more about her books, visit www.vickiefee.com or find her at www.facebook.com/VickieFeeAuthor and on Twitter: @vickiefeeauthor. And here is a teaser blurb for Death Crashes the Party

Killer parties, Southern charm


In the quirky, close-knit town of Dixie, party planner Liv McKay has a knack for throwing Southern-style soirées, from diamonds-and-denim to black tie affairs — and her best friend Di Souther mixes a mean daiquiri. While planning a Moonshine and Magnolias bash for a couple of high maintenance clients, Liv inconveniently discovers a corpse in the freezer and turns her attention from fabulous fêtes to finding a murderer. Together, Liv and Di follow a trail of sinister secrets in their sweet little town that leads them from drug smugglers to a Civil War battlefield, and just when they think they’re whistling Dixie, Liv and Di will find themselves squarely in the crosshairs of the least likely killer of all…

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Amber Foxx - Guest Author

Please welcome fellow Sister in Crime Guppy Chapter member Amber Foxx to the blog today. She describes herself in alliterative style as a fun-loving, free spirit, who is flexible and funny. Her writing is unconventional, character-driven, non-violent, and suspenseful. Here are her answers to her chosen questions.

Describe your most productive writing venue. What makes it best for you?

The kitchen table when I’m in New Mexico for the summer. The view out the window is inspiring, since it’s the setting for most of my series, and I’m on vacation from my college teaching job. I’m productive during the academic year in my home office, but I get twice as much done during summer.

What is your most productive time of the day (and do you need caffeine)?

During the summer the whole day is my most productive time, but especially the time between ten a.m. when I get up and have coffee and around noon when I go for a run. Actually, I’m quite creative while running, too. During the rest of the year my most productive time is at night, no caffeine required.

How many books do you read in a typical month? Do you read in your genre while you are writing? What’s your most recent “great” book?

I just finished an advance copy of the latest in J. Michael Orenduffs Pot Thief Series, The Pot Thief Who Studied Georgia O’Keefe. I love this series for its local color. He gets the personality of the New Mexico and knows its culture and history. I love books that break with conventions and do it well. Hubie Schuze, the protagonist, doesn’t find the bodies or witness the murders, and he’s an offbeat hero—kind, eccentric, on the small side, and on the wrong side of the law when it comes to ancient pots. I enjoy the humor, the quality of the research—I always learn something new from a Pot Thief book, the ongoing characters that have started to feel like old friends, the complexity of the plots, and the fact that they’re as much about art, archaeology, love, friendship and some clever thefts as about murder.

Name three not well-known authors you would recommend and tell us what you like about their writing.

Virginia King. She writes an extraordinary series best described as visionary fiction. Her characters’ adventures are so intense, the suspense is nonstop though these are psychological mysteries rather than murder mysteries. I have profound dreams whenever I read her work. And as far as style goes, she’s one of the few writers I’ve come across who can use the present tense effectively to sustain tension without any clunky moments.

Marion Eaton. Her mysteries work through layers of time, interweaving a centuries-past mystery with a twentieth-century one. They're set in a small village in the Romney Marsh area of England, a setting that comes alive through her marvelous way with words.

Martyn V. Halm. I’m hooked on his Amsterdam Assassin series. This is not my typical reading—a thriller series featuring a female professional assassin—but Halm writes with a kind of Zen-like balance and clarity that makes this unlikely protagonist compelling. I’ve read every novella and novel in the series and while each one is a complete story, taken together they form an even bigger story. This level of architecture in plotting amazes me. He blends Eastern culture (one of the main characters is a martial artist) and Amsterdam life, wisdom and darkness, love and enmity, making these books thought-provoking as well as entertaining. The newest in the series, Ghosting, just came out.

What is the most challenging area for you as a writer? What are you doing to address the issue?

I get carried away. My first drafts are way too long. I’m trying to find my happy medium between plotting and pantsing, using a kind of plotting grid as I go along, making sure each theme and subplot stays on track, and yet allowing for a few undecided turns that evolve as I work. Even so, I still have to cut a lot. I make small changes that tighten each line, doing what I call the “cut revision.” I also cut subplots and themes that don’t work and scenes that can take place offstage but don’t need to be shown to the reader.

How did you develop the idea for your most recent work?

The most recent work I released is actually a horror story, Bearing, based on a very scary Apache myth. Soul Loss, the most recent book in my mystery series, emerged from years of reading about shamanism and from encounters with both quacks and authentically gifted seers in Santa Fe and elsewhere. Since the crimes in my books are never murders, I challenged myself to create the kind of mystery that only a psychic could solve.

What motivates your protagonist (if not a series, then use the protagonist of your most recent novel)? What influenced who they are today?

Mae Martin is intensely competitive—she’s been an athlete all her life and likes to win—but also a helper, sometimes too much so. This urge to take care of people is both her greatest weakness and her greatest strength. She was influenced by her maternal grandmother, a seer and folk healer, her father, a coach, and her mother, a nurse—a good caregiver in her professional life but not as a mother.

Collectively they gave her desire to understand people and a curiosity about the world. I wrote a short story, The Outlaw Women, that’s a prequel to the series, which shows her family influences. It takes place when she’s ten, and shows her through her grandmother’s point of view. Other experiences that influenced her were marrying young to the wrong man and getting divorced, then remarrying to a man with two children and becoming a stepmother. In the first book, she finds a mentor who encourages her to explore her gifts and use them.

What was the best piece of writing advice you ever received and why was it so valuable?

Writing coach James Scott Bell says that a novel is always about the threat of death. It doesn’t have to be physical death, though it can be. The protagonist can be facing psychological death, professional death, the death of a relationship—but it has to be a threat from which she can’t turn away.

Here's a quick blurb on Soul Loss:

Spring winds blow strange times into the City Different:

Mae Martin’s friend Jamie Ellerbee has dropped out of her life—and perhaps his own life as well. A teenaged model breaks contact with her parents after an encounter with a Santa Fe shaman. A psychic fair can’t recruit any psychics. Something is wrong with all of them … except one.

Faced with mysteries that reach into in the spirit world, Mae takes on her most challenging work yet—work that puts her gifts as a psychic and a healer at risk.


https://amberfoxxmysteries.wordpress.com/buy-books-retail-links/