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Posts tagged ‘writers’

Mystery Most Cozy Interviews Linda O. Johnston

Linda, thanks for joining our MMC interviews. It’s a delight to get acquainted with you.
 
 
Murder Most Cozy is celebrating their tenth anniversary. What is your favorite thing about the group: reader interaction, fan support, being able to connect with fellow authors or what and why?
 
I have to admit I’ve mostly been a lurker, although I hope to change that. Mostly, I’ve enjoyed observing the interactions between authors and readers and how they communicate so delightfully!
 
When and how did you discover the Murder Most Cozy group?
 
I joined the Murder Most Cozy Yahoo Group on January 31, 2005. I know that because I went onto the Yahoo Group list and checked! I’m not sure how I first heard about it, but I’ve always loved mysteries, and my own first cozy mystery SIT, STAY, SLAY, a Kendra Ballantyne Pet-Sitter mystery, was published in 2005. Seemed like a good fit!
 
How did you know you were meant to write?
 
I’ve always written. Even as a kid, I started to write a novel–a sci-fi story about a boy and girl who explore the universe together. I never finished it but I found the pages I’d written a few years ago when my mother passed away. She had saved them.
 
What fascinates you about mysteries?
 
There’s such a variety of mysteries, from cozy to hard-boiled, and yet they all have something in common: something goes wrong, such as one or more person getting killed, and a person–the protagonist–who’s dedicated and interesting to read about is determined to figure out whodunit by the end of the book. Too bad real life isn’t always so satisfying!
 
What inspired you to writeyour  mysteries?
 
Since I loved to write, and I always enjoyed reading mysteries, it was a natural fit.
 
What intrigues you about writing a series?
 
In my two mystery series, the Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter mysteries and the spin-off Pet Rescue Mysteries, I’ve enjoyed introducing, in each, a protagonist who must change during the first story from someone who has no interest in solving mysteries to a person who has no choice–and of course succeeds. Throughout the series, I also enjoy providing a character arc for my protagonists, as each comes to realize that, like it or not, she’s going to have to keep solving murders to help her friends or acquaintances. Each one has also had friends whose characters develop, too. And of course they’ve all had animals in them. I love pets, especially dogs!
 
How much of a story do you have in mind when you begin a new book?
 
I generally have a theme for the story that fits into the series. From there, I create a short synopsis that I work from–so I go into writing the story knowing who’ll get murdered, whodunit and how and why, and how my protagonist will solve it.
 
Part of the magic of writing is creating memorable characters. Who are your favorite characters, why, and which of your mysteries feature them?
 
I love Lauren Vancouver, protagonist of my Pet Rescue Mysteries, because of her dedication to saving animals. Her stories have inspired me to become a dog adoption counselor at Pet Orphans of Southern California, a wonderful private pet shelter. I also love Kendra Ballantyne, protagonist of my Pet-Sitter Mysteries, because she lives in the Hollywood Hills where I live, she’s a lawyer, as I’ve been, and she has a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Lexie, as I do. Do you see a theme here? My protagonists tend to be my alter egos!
 
What would you like to say to your readers & fans?
 
Keep on reading! And, if possible, make your reading a blend of print books and ebooks so both will continue to thrive. Oh, and while you’re at it, why not try some of my mysteries if you haven’t already, and if you have, I’d love it if you’d make the rest a target of your continued reading. J I’d also love to hear from you.
 
What advice would you offer a beginning writer?
 
Keep at it. Join writing groups, local or online, to get support for what you’re doing and critiques to help you continue to develop your skills. And never give up! You’re entering into a new world of publishing with lots of possibilities, from the standard established publishers to smaller publishers to self-publishing, so one way or another you should be able to share your creations with the world.
 
Do you like a touch of romance woven into your mysteries? Do you add it into your own stories?
 
Yes, and yes! In addition to being a mystery writer, I also write romance for Harlequin Nocturne (paranormal) and Harlequin Romantic Suspense. I’ve always said that my mysteries always contain an element of romance, and my romances always contain suspense or mystery.
 
As author you create magic offering readers an escape into your story. As you write how deeply do you submerge into your own characters, setting and plot? Do you dream any of your scenes?
 
My characters do seem to speak to me, to tell me what comes next, or that I’m taking them in a direction they don’t want to go. I don’t dream my scenes, but they often flow into my subconscious at night as I’m taking a bath and preparing for bed.
 
Why did you choose cozy rather than thrillers, intrigue or true crime?
 
I enjoy reading all of them, but realized that, to include animals in the way I wanted to–for fun, with all of them getting out of any fixes I’d put them in unharmed–cozies would work best. Even so, I haven’t closed my mind to the possibility of trying thrillers someday. And I do write romantic suspense–for Harlequin Romantic Suspense.
 
Can you read cozies while writing? Or do they influence your own too much? (tone, voice, etc.)
 
Unlike a lot of authors, I do like to read the kind of story I’m writing as I’m writing it, including cozies. That helps me get into the mood. But my stories derive from my own subconscious and my characters talk to me. I’m not concerned that I’ll start to mimic anyone else.
 
Do you feel you must write your cozies in a series? If so,why?
 
See my responses to character development, above. I love to see my characters develop and learn from their experiences as they solve more mysteries.
 
Do you enjoy “stand alone” cozies that are not part of a series if written well?
 
Sure–although most cozies I read are parts of series, I’ll read any kind of cozy as long as I enjoy it.
 
What are you writing now?
 
At the moment, I’m writing the fifth Pet Rescue Mystery. I just turned in the manuscript for my fourth Alpha Force Harlequin Nocturne–about a covert military unit of shapeshifters. As I mentioned, I love animals and I enjoy writing about them in any form!
 
Tell us about your newest mystery:
 
My latest published mystery is HOUNDS ABOUND, the third Pet Rescue Mystery themed around a special sanctuary for special needs pets that may be hard to rehome–seniors and those with disabilities, including some with prosthetics. When the owner of that sanctuary is accused of killing her ex-husband, protagonist Lauren Vancouver has to get involved to help keep the sanctuary in business. My next Pet Rescue Mystery OODLES OF POODLES will be a February 2013 release. It’s themed around the film industry and the “No Animals Were Harmed” trademarked phrase of the American Humane Association. Lauren is helping to observe the filming of a movie about rescue dogs and has to solve the murder of the director to keep the film going.
 
Where can we find out more about you and your books?
 
Come visit me at my website–although it currently needs to be brought up to date. It’s at http://www.LindaOJohnston.com You can also friend me on Facebook, or read my weekly blog on Wednesdays at KillerHobbies.blogspot.com
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Mystery Most Cozy Interviews Nancy Lynn Jarvis

by Karen E. Rigley

Nancy, it’s a delight to have you join our author interviews to celebrate the MMC 10th anniversary.

When and how did you discover the Mystery Most Cozy group?

It’s been so long ago, I can’t remember. I think it was through Jenny or Karen.

How did you know you were meant to write?

I didn’t. I was bored and started writing as a game to see if I could.

What fascinates you about mysteries?

I love the logic and structure of mysteries. Except for “Backyard Bones,” where I wanted the reader to figure out who the murderer was one chapter before my protagonist did and be yelling, “No, no, Regan, he’s the one who did it,” I think anyone paying attention should be able to solve the mystery. The fun and the challenge for me is to see if I can drop clues without giving away the murderer’s identity too soon.

What inspired you to write mysteries?

It’s not a what, but who in my case. I grew up reading Agatha Christie and loved her style and I read all of Tony Hillerman’s books just before I started writing.

What intrigues you about writing a series?

I enjoy watching the relationships between returning characters develop, and in my protagonist Regan McHenry’s case, seeing how she gets better at being an amateur sleuth as she gains experience. She didn’t trust her instincts at the beginning of “The Death Contingency.” By the time she is in “The Widow’s Walk League,” she knows what she’s doing, although she still sometimes jumps to the wrong conclusion for a time.

I’ve always thought she isn’t quite as good at solving mysteries as she thinks she is, and her ego in regard to that is fun to play with in a series, too.

What is the most challenging facet of writing for you?

Even though I’ve written four mysteries and one other book― so I know I can create a book―and have an outline, a psychological profile and a life story for all characters so I know who they are, sitting at the computer staring at a blank screen is a challenge. I have to know in great detail how the book opens, because at that moment, I have no idea how to write.

What do you enjoy reading?

Pretty much everything, but more non-fiction than fiction; history is a favorite.

How much of a story do you have in mind when you begin a new book?

I know the story line and have an outline which varies in detail from chapter to chapter. In “Buying Murder” there was one chapter where all that my outline said was, “Regan knocks on Isabelle’s door.” I sat back and watched what the characters did and said after that and let them write the chapter.

Part of the magic of writing is creating memorable characters. Who are your favorite characters, why, and which of your mysteries feature them?

Dave, the police ombudsman who is Regan’s best friend, is my favorite recurring character because he and Regan are constantly trying to one-up one another and it’s fun to write their bickering.

Mrs. Rosemont from “The Death Contingency” remains my favorite character, however, followed closely by Olive from “The Widow’s Walk League.” Both are older women who look at the world a little differently than most people do; I enjoy that about them. In fact I enjoyed writing those characters so much I took a break from mysteries to write “Mags and the AARP Gang” which is about a group of octogenarians living in an about-to-be-foreclosed mobile home park who decide to rob the bank that holds their mortgage and pay it off with their heisted money.

What advice would you offer a beginning writer?

Do it! You’ll have such a great time and so many adventures as a writer.

What do you enjoy most about being an author & what drives you crazy?

Surprisingly I love to get up in front of an audience and tell them about my books. As Nancy Lynn Jarvis, which is my pen name, I’m told I’m an entertaining speaker. If I try to speak in public as myself, however, I do a terrible job.

Even though I tell myself I shouldn’t let it, what irritates me the most about being an author is reviews given by people who haven’t read the book they are critiquing. It especially astounds me when they begin their review by announcing, “I didn’t read past page four, but…”

Why did you choose cozy rather than thrillers, intrigue or true crime?

Hey, I have to write the books. Thrillers and violence scare me.

Can you read cozies while writing? Or do they influence your own too much? (tone, voice, etc.)

I can’t read any non-fiction when I’m writing which is why I have a growing stack of books I want to read soon.

What are you writing now?

I’m just finishing up a book called “Mags and the AARP Gang” which is a complete departure from the mysteries I’ve written. As a mystery writer, I’m a fly-on-the-wall type who writes in third person because I’m more comfortable observing than being in the midst of things, but Mags is written in first person from the perspective of an eighty-three year old woman. It was a challenge for me to write. I did use the same structure to unfold what happens as I use to unfold a mystery, though, so that helped.

Tell us about your newest mystery:

I’m working on the outline for the next book in the Regan McHenry Real Estate Mysteries series tentatively titled, “The Murder House.” I visualize people I know as I start writing many of the characters in my books. I’ve already told the real Realtor who gets murdered in chapter two that she’s doomed.

Where can we find out more about you and your books?

You can go to my website: www.goodreadmysteries.com or to my Amazon author’s page:

http://www.amazon.com/Nancy-Lynn-Jarvis/e/B002CWX7IQ/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1350796873&sr=1-2-ent

Visit Mystery Most Cozy to find out how to enter the drawing for one of her novels.

Mystery Most Cozy links:

http://www.facebook.com/groups/188620978695/?fref=ts

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MysteryMostCozy/?yguid=482689562

My links:

Mystery Most Cozy Interviews Sherry Lewis/Jacklyn Brady

by Karen E. Rigley

Welcome, Sherry.  You and I go way back to before your first mystery, so it’s such a treat to interview you on behalf of  Mystery Most Cozy. 

Mystery Most Cozy is celebrating their tenth anniversary.  What is your favorite thing about the group: reader interaction, fan support, being able to connect with fellow authors or what and why?

I think my favorite thing about the group is the reader interaction. I like hearing how other readers react to the books I read, what they liked that I didn’t, what they didn’t like that I did. As part of that, I also learn about authors and books I may not have heard about from any other source.

 When and how did you discover the Mystery Most Cozy group?

 Oh, goodness! I joined about a year after Jenny started the group, and I’m pretty sure I heard about this group on some other mystery-related yahoo group or on DOROTHYL. It’s been nearly 10 years, though, and the details have escaped me.

How did you know you were meant to write?

I always knew I was meant to write. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t thinking about writing – and it was always books. I never wanted to write short stories or magazine articles. I just wanted to write books. I devoured the Bobbsey Twins books, tore through Nancy Drew, and then moved on to Victoria Holt when I was very young. I have a clear memory of saying to my mother, “Someday, when I’m a world-famous novelist…” while standing in the sandbox in the backyard of our Billings, Montana home. I moved from there when I was 11, so I must have known what I wanted to do well before then.

What fascinates you about mysteries?

I love the variety of books available in the mystery genre. I love pitting myself against the author and trying to puzzle out the mystery before s/he reveals the answers to me. I love the way a gifted author can put all the clues in plain sight and still misdirect my attention and send me racing off in the wrong direction.

What inspired you to write your mysteries?

Well, like I said before, I loved mysteries when I was young, and at one point in my life I wanted to be Carolyn Keene. Then for a while, the romance genre and family sagas claimed my attention. When I started writing seriously, the only writing group I could find in my local area was a chapter of Romance Writers of America. I joined, just wanting the interaction with other writers and tried to write a romance, but soon discovered that if I put a man and a woman in the same room, one of them would kill the other, and I was right back to my original love of the cozy mystery genre. I later wrote romances, too, but I started with mysteries.

What intrigues you about writing a series?

When I sold my first mystery novel 20 years ago, I had no intention of making it into a series. I loved reading other writers’ series but I didn’t think I was smart enough to write one of my own. I submitted that first mystery and got a 3-book contract offer from Berkley Prime Crime and freaked out. I wasn’t about to say no but I didn’t know what to do after I said yes.

At about the same time, my book club was reading Bootlegger’s Daughter by Margaret Maron. I was supposed to lead the discussion, so I got very bold and wrote to ask about her experience of writing the book. She was very gracious and wrote about character arcs and other terms I understood instinctively after many years of nursing a reading addiction, but didn’t understand from a writer’s perspective. Her letter prompted me to think about things I hadn’t even considered before then, and now it’s the character arc for the entire series that fascinates me most when I work on a mystery series.

What is the most challenging facet of writing for you?

Oh, goodness! What isn’t challenging? I’ve had many jobs in my lifetime, but this is hands’ down the hardest of them all. It’s also the most rewarding. I think the most challenging facet is overcoming self-doubt. Even after 30-something published books, I’m still convinced that this book is the one that will expose me as a fraud.

What do you enjoy reading?

Just about anything and everything. There are some genres I like better than others, but if a book is well-written, I’ll bury myself in it and keep turning the pages. I love cozy mysteries, of course. I love hard-boiled mysteries. I love spy thrillers. I love a good romance novel. I love romantic suspense. I love family sagas. I love historical novels. I still have a dream of writing The Great American Novel set around the American Revolution. One of these days …

Which authors have influenced you?

How much time do you have??? Of course Margaret Maron was a huge influence, as was every person who ever put on the Carolyn Keene hat. Victoria Holt and Phyllis A. Whitney were very strong early influences. I can still recall images I created in my head as I read some of their books. I loved Dorothy Cannell’s Ellie Haskell series and Marcia Muller’s Sharon McCone books. I think that Susan Howatch is brilliant, and I’ve been itching to read Rosamunde Pilcher’s The Shell Seekers again. Anne Rivers Siddons’ Colony is an all-time favorite book. Lawrence Block’s Bernie Rhodenbarr series were a great influence on me, as were Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch series.

How much of a story do you have in mind when you begin a new book?

That depends on the book. Very often, I have what I think is a big chunk of an idea, only to find out that my protagonist has absolutely no interest in the perfectly good mystery I’ve thought up for him or her. There are a few books on my backlist (including my current work-in-progress) that I’ve started over at least half a dozen times trying to find something my protagonist will actually care about. 

Other times, I have one tiny thing – the sound of a gunshot, perhaps, or a character I see standing on the side of the road – and then I write to find out what or who it is. 

Part of the magic of writing is creating memorable characters. Who are your favorite characters, why, and which of your mysteries feature them?

I still have a soft spot for the characters in my very first mystery series, especially Fred Vickery, my 70-something protagonist. He appeared on page one of my very first serious work-in-progress, and at that time I thought he was going to be a walk-on character who found a dead body and then got shot later in the book. But Fred came to life and demanded a starring role, and I’ve never regretted giving it to him.

What would you like to say to your readers & fans?

Thank you, thank you, thank you! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your reactions to my books and your support of my career.

What advice would you offer a beginning writer?

Learn discipline. Don’t wait for the muse to strike, just write. Write when you want to write. Write when you don’t want to write. Write when the words are flowing and write when the voices in your head are silent. Write when life is going well, and write when it’s not. This is much easier said than done, but there will be times in years to come when the ability to write in spite of it all will save your career.

What do you enjoy most about being an author & what drives you crazy?

I enjoy being my own boss, for the most part, and the incredible freedom that comes from doing what I love to do most and getting paid for it. What drives me crazy? Probably the number of people who, when they find out what I do for a living, say, “You ought to write about my life. It would be a bestseller for sure, and we could split the money.”

Do you like a touch of romance woven into your mysteries?  Do you add it into your own stories?

I don’t mind a touch of romance in my mysteries, but seriously just a touch. That might sound strange coming from someone who has also written romance novels for a living, but there you have it. I do add a touch to my own stories, but only just a touch.

What are your favorite “writing” clothes?

My pajamas. Unfortunately, I’m not nearly as productive if I spend all day in my PJs, so I have to make myself get dressed, usually in jeans and a T-shirt, and go to work.

Why did you choose cozy rather than thrillers, intrigue or true crime?

Mostly because I’m not a spy or a police officer, so I think that I can probably write an amateur sleuth with more authority than I could a police detective or an FBI agent. I find that I’m quite uncomfortable with true crime thanks to several brushes with violence in my own life. Cozy mysteries offer me the fun of the puzzle without the gore and graphic violence. 

Can you read cozies while writing? Or do they influence your own too much? (tone, voice, etc.)

Yes, I can and I do. In fact, what I find I have to avoid reading is romance since the language and rhythm that makes a good romance is so different from what I need in my head when I’m writing a mystery.

Do you enjoy “stand alone” cozies that are not part of a series if written well?

Absolutely!

What are you writing now?

I’m currently working on the fourth book in the Piece of Cake Mystery series which I write as Jacklyn Brady.  

Tell us about your newest mystery:

Business is going stale at Zydeco Cakes and Rita Lucero has plenty to worry about. But when the blind trumpet player Old Dog Leg Magee asks for a favor, she can’t say no. His brother Monroe disappeared forty years ago, and now someone has shown up claiming to be him. Old Dog Leg needs Rita to be his eyes—and see if it’s really his brother. Old Dog Leg asks Rita and the sexy Cajun bartender, Gabriel Broussard, to check into the Love Nest Bed and Breakfast and pose as newlyweds to check out the man who calls himself Monroe. Then another guest at the Love Nest turns up dead and it seems that the mystery man might also be a mysteryer…

Arsenic and Old Cake will be released on November 6.

Where can we find out more about you and your books?

If you’re looking for Sherry Lewis:

website: http://www.sherrylewisbooks.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/sherry.lewis.393

Twitter: @SherryLewis

If you’re looking for Jacklyn Brady:

website: http://www.jacklynbrady.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jacklyn.brady.author

Facebook Fan Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jacklyn-Brady/180151502006968

Twitter: @jacklynbrady

Visit Mystery Most Cozy to find out how to enter the drawing for one of her mysteries.

Mystery Most Cozy links:

http://www.facebook.com/groups/188620978695/?

fref=tshttp://groups.yahoo.com/group/MysteryMostCozy/?yguid=482689562

My links:

Midnight in the Rockies

by Karen E. Rigley

Midnight finds me writing. That’s what happens when you’re a writer–you write. At odd hours, strange times, different places – wearing nothing but PJs, dressed up for a party or clad in faded jeans and barefoot. Scribbling, typing, editing – writing, writing some more, then rewriting. It looks crazy to our nonwriter family and friends. So they label us crazy writers. And it’s true.

I’m a crazy writer. That’s essential to who I am. I belong to that strange breed called writers.

A writer must write. It is an obsession, a job, a dream. Blank paper challenges us to create and communicate. We are both artist and slave — grumbling when we can’t write and grumbling while we do; planning the next writing project and praying to complete the current one. We may be writers by choice or writers by accident, writers full-time or part-time, beginners or pros, but every one of us shares the passion to write.

So midnight finds me writing.

 

WORD WAVE

A lifetime is not long enough

to drain the pulsing tide

flowing from the reservoir

held in a writer’s mind.

                                    LIMBO SAIL

I drift through the colorless ocean of writer’s limbo,
aimlessly floating upon a sea of nothingness.
Has reality encroached too far
shipwrecking my creativity?
Has continuously pondering the fate of manuscripts
drowned my productivity?
Have the recent crisis and chaos of life
battered and marooned my muse?
Waves of limbo lure me away from my writing.
I unresistingly follow like a sailor searching the seas,
mesmerized by the siren call of mermaids.
I ignore cries of unfinished tales.
Ignore impatient ideas swimming through my mind.
Ignore imaginary voices floating upon the waves.
A flame flickers above the horizon,
igniting with the intensity of a lighthouse beacon,
beckoning me back to the harbor of my computer.

FACETS

A writer tries to view

life in various facets.

Such ability becomes

one of our greatest assets.