MARY SEIFERT – Mixes Math & Logic into Fiction

A former math teacher, Mary ties numbers and logic to her Katie and Maverick Mysteries, peppered with intricate puzzles, a bit of history, a geocache, and a tasty cocktail recipe. When she’s not writing, she’s making incredible memories with family and friends, walking her dog, whose only speed is faster, carefully deleting reference to murder from her web browser, and pretending to cook. You can find her nibbling chocolate and sipping wine, both of which sometimes occur while she is writing and reading.

RECENT RELEASE-CREEPS, CACHE & CORPSES – March 7, 2024

ELEVATOR PITCH: When Katie’s spring break plans for a romantic getaway with her beau fall apart, and she skips the chance to go skiing with her dad and the sister she’s very recently met, she and Maverick accompany a group of friends attending the memorial service for a student’s mother. However, it is spring break, so there will also be salon treatments, shopping, and sightseeing. But, from the moment they arrive, tension fills the air as the oddball innkeeper and her nephew appear to be harboring secrets.

Katie and her friends are in town less than 24 hours when, during a geocache outing, Katie and her students discover a dead body concealed in a remote area of a county park. Unfortunately, the victim just happens to be one of the few people in town they’ve already met, and Katie’s group is getting the side-eye from the local cops.

The suspects are numerous, and the motives tricky, but Katie and those close to her are shocked when the sheriff leaps ahead to arrest one of their own. How can Katie find enough evidence to convince him otherwise, especially when she’s been warned to leave it to the professionals—many times?

NEW PROJECT FOR EARLY SUMMER RELEASE: Katie Wilk tries to reconcile her definition of family with her new reality, a half-sister she never knew she had. Caught in the frenzy of end-of-the-school-year activities, it’s easy to avoid her half-sister until she’s accused of murder, and Katie knows she can’t let anything get in the way of their future relationship, whatever that may look like.

Where do you write? What, if any, distractions do you allow? I write in our sunroom with my dog cuddled at my feet, a cup of black tea at my right hand, the laptop in front of me, and lots of room to pace. I’ve learned I work best in quiet, so I’ve settled on early morning when silence is golden in my house. Later in the day, everything breaks loose.

Who’s your favorite author? My favorite author changes every time I finish a new book. However, I am and will forever be a fan of Agatha Christie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Isaac Asimov, Charles Dickens, Nancy Drew, and Ellery Queen. Of course, then there are the children’s authors….

How long did it take you to write your first book? It wasn’t the writing of the first book that took so long but the rewriting. And it took seven more years to get my great publisher.

How do you come up with character names? I have used familiar names for ALL the good guys–the names of my children, my husband, my friends, and my extended family. I take more time with the antagonists because I don’t want anyone to say, “What do you have in for….?” but sometimes I reread the mug my friend gave me and chuckle. “Please do not annoy the writer. She may put you in a book and kill you.”

Do you have subplots? If so, how do you weave them into the novel’s arc? I hope all my books contain two complete stories. There is the crime itself that needs to be solved, but because Katie is a high school teacher and club adviser, there are difficulties she helps her students survive as well.

How do you raise the stakes for your protagonist—for the antagonist? Posing problems–math, geocache, social, puzzles–to Katie Wilk is one way I raise the stakes for her. Katie was trained in encryption as a Mathematical Cryptanalyst, and all of my stories include a code of sorts, the solution of which adds an unexpected hurdle to the path of my egotistical (I am so bright, no one can catch on to my clues) antagonist. Of course, so far, my crimes have included a corpse and someone close to Katie accused of the crime, so there’s always that at stake for Katie.

What kind of research do you do? I love research and can get lost down the rabbit hole for days. I talk to professionals in the areas of expertise that might show up in my story now or later. I’ve taken a class with a gun instructor and a fabric artist, talked to pharmacists, a church curator, realtors, surgeons, lawyers, a police officer, a pathologist, an ER doctor, ice fisherpeople, a dog trainer (essentially a dog-whisperer who can make a dog do almost anything), therapy dog volunteers, and Search-and-Rescue evaluators. We finesse the cocktail recipes at the back of my books with multiple taste tests and — ooops. I’m spiraling out of control.

Where do you place your settings—real or fictional locations? My stories take place in outstate Minnesota. I love history and attend seminars in our local area. At one such event, I learned that in 1872, the governmental powers decided they couldn’t afford to build and support all the county seats WAY OUTWEST, so they merged Monongalia with Kandiyohi Counties. Monongalia’s county seat would have been Columbia. Plaque markers still exist. Most of my stories take place in a NOW fictional Columbia, MN, the county seat of Monongalia County. Still, I can use my local landmarks and familiar geography to color my stories. However, one of my stories has taken place in my real hometown – another location I know and love. Therefore, the answer to the question is a resounding YES – real and fictional.

Looking to the future, what’s in store for you? With Book 8, which will be released in early summer, Katie and Maverick are destined to discover more bodies and solve more crimes.

Do you have any advice for new writers? My advice is to never give up doing what you love to do.

How do our readers contact you? maryseifertauthor@gmail.com
LINK to AMAZON: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0B2N876FZ
LINK to Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/Mary%20seifert
LINK to KOBO: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/search?query=mary+seifert&fclanguages=en.
GROUPS
Facebook
Katie and Maverick Cozy Mysteries
Sisters in Crime
Mystery Writers of America
LINKS
Webpage: www.maryseifertauthor.com
Facebook: Katie and Maverick Cozy Mysteries
Instagram: maryseifertauthor
TikTok: maryseifertauthor
LinkedIn: Mary KG Seifert
X: @mary_seifert
Email: maryseifertcozies@gmail.com

6 Comments

  1. Pamela Ruth Meyer

    This was an inspirational post, George and Mary. Once again, it is proof that a few good ideas, hard work, and determination are the best ingredients for getting us where we want to go.

    Reply
    • Mary

      Thanks so much and it was such fun. We do what we love with the daily grind – light roast for me.

      Reply
      • George Cramer

        Mary,

        Thanks for your unforgettable post and advice. I agree with all except light roast. It’s medium or nothing for me.

        Reply
        • Mary

          🙂
          (sometimes I wish I drank coffee!)

          Reply
  2. Michael A. Black

    It sounds like you’ve got a winning formula: Interesting Ideas + Mary Seifert = X. Since I was never that good at math, I’ll solve it for you by saying that X = Great Writing. Best of luck to you.

    Reply
    • Mary

      Michael, that was ingenious. Thank you most sincerely! Obviously your math skills are much better than you give yourself credit for.
      Best always,
      Mary

      Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

PAULA F. WINSKYE – Writer of Mysteries

Paula F. (Pfeiffer) Winskye, a North Dakota native, began writing stories about horses at age 12. More than 30 years later, in 2003, she published her first novel. Poachers in the Park is her 26th and second book for younger readers.

Winskye has also penned twelve Tony Wagner mysteries, three Randy McKay mysteries, two Lunar Enforcement science fiction mysteries, three romances, and four volumes of the Collins family saga.

Winskye and her husband, John, live near Snowflake, Arizona, where she is a Navajo County Sheriff’s Auxiliary Volunteer.

“Some of my earliest memories are of laying awake, thinking up new plots to my favorite cartoons. I was a writer even before I could write.

Genres: Though I have published other genres, I now only write mysteries. My protagonists are straight arrows. They are flawed but strive to do the right thing.

Locations: Most of my locations are real, with a few exceptions. Tony Wagner’s hometown is fictional. And, if one of my protagonists is dealing with corrupt or incompetent law enforcement, I will set that in a fictional town. I won’t disparage real law enforcement agencies.

Current project: My current project is Tony Wagner mystery 13. The first, The Reverend Finds His Calling, reached number six on Amazon for serial killer mysteries. Why “The Reverend?” In that book, Tony is a seminary student who gets drawn into the hunt for the National Park serial killer. Though he decides to go into law enforcement, people still call him “reverend.”

Tony is by far my most popular character. Fans are always looking for the next in the series. Tony has been compared favorably to C.J. Box’s Joe Picket.

When I finish the first draft of this novel, I’ll set it aside and begin working on my fourth Randy McKay mystery. Tony will make an appearance there, too. This is the second crossover featuring both characters.

Outline or not: I also have the plots for Lunar Enforcement number three and the second mystery for younger readers. I am a pantser. Fortunately, my brain can store detailed plots for several novels, even some dialog. I have a notebook where I sometimes write the general idea for a story but never an outline.

Challenges to writing: Life is the biggest challenge I face in my writing career. I stepped away from some of my responsibilities to give me more time. I’m a morning writer. The earlier I can get to work on my story, the more I accomplish. If I have to leave home early, I may not get any writing done that day.

Writing advice: I used to deal with writer’s block by working on another project. Now, it isn’t a problem because I’m not afraid to write badly. If I push through that tough spot, writing a scene I consider not so good, it can be revised. You can’t edit a blank page.

That is one of the best pieces of advice I give to beginning writers. Don’t be afraid to write badly. Perfectionism is the enemy of the first draft. A bad first draft is better than only a perfect first page.

Other advice. Jot ideas when they come to you. Use waiting time (before appointments, waiting for the kids) to take notes. If you don’t have an idea for your novel, use writing prompts or free write. Don’t just talk about writing. Write.

Join a writers’ group. If there isn’t one in your area, start one. Put up signs at the local library or bookstore to recruit others. Use local social media.

Organizations: I belong to Sisters in Crime and its Tucson chapter. It has given me opportunities which I never would have had otherwise. I recently joined the Arizona Professional Writers and look forward to working within that organization.

Promotion: For those of you who are published authors, you are your book’s best advocate. As writers, getting out and talking to the public is usually not our thing. It wasn’t mine.

From the time I published my first novel, I knew that I would have to be the one to sell it. Even getting your books into bookstores involves salesmanship skills. I signed up to sell my books at craft shows, fairs, and swap meets. My best venues are book or arts festivals. Still, after consistently attending other events for years, people look for my latest novel.

I recently heard two speakers giving separate presentations offering the same advice. “The best advertisement for your first book is your second book.” I couldn’t agree more.

My goal for the next year is to sell on a broader scale, specifically to expand my internet sales. My books are available on Amazon. I’m starting to branch out to other sites and expand my advertising.

I believe that if more people try one of my novels, many will be back for more. For that reason, the e-book edition of The Reverend Finds His Calling is free on Smashwords, Kobo, and Amazon.

website– Author Paula F. Winskye (winskyebooks.com)

FB page– Facebook

 

 

 

6 Comments

  1. Mary

    Nicely done, Paula. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
  2. Michael A. Black

    Paula, this was a delightful post. Thanks for all the great writing advice, and I appreciate your respect for law enforcement. You sound like you’ve got a great writing process. I hope you’ll consider joining the PSWA (Pubic Safety Writers Association). You’d fit right in. Best of luck to you and the Reverend.

    Reply
  3. Pamela Ruth Meyer

    Paula, you had me at “laying awake, thinking up new plots to my favorite cartoons.” That’s hysterical and sweet and magical, all in one. Best of luck with POACHERS IN THE PARK.

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

DEB RICHARDSON-MOORE – From Journalist to Minister to Author of Twisty Murder Mysteries

Deb Richardson-Moore is a former journalist who had a second career as pastor of a church that included homeless parishioners. Now a full-time author, she writes murder mysteries that fall somewhere between cozies and gritty psychological thrillers.

Her six titles include the three-volume Branigan Powers series, the stand-alones Murder, Forgotten and Through Any Window, and a memoir about her early years as a pastor, The Weight of Mercy.

Deb and her husband live in Greenville, South Carolina, and are the parents of three adult children.

In Deb’s newest release, Through Any Window, 25-year-old Riley flees to her cousin’s upscale home in a gentrifying Southern neighborhood where ritzy houses rise beside crumbling boarding houses and homeless people live in nearby woods. When a double murder explodes, detectives are left wondering: Are the deaths personal or the result of the neighborhood’s simmering economic tensions? And is Riley to blame, as someone has so meticulously planned?

 

Do you write in more than one genre? Not anymore. After my memoir about my harrowing early years as a pastor to street dwellers, my publisher in England asked if I’d write a sequel. But that didn’t interest me. I wanted to write a murder mystery like those I’d read all my life. He encouraged me, and I combined things I’d learned about homelessness with the mystery genre. In The Cantaloupe Thief, The Cover Story, and Death of a Jester, a homeless man helps a news reporter solve crimes by seeing and hearing things most of their townspeople don’t.

What brought you to writing? Voracious reading. As far back as second grade, teachers challenged me to write stories for extra credit. I veered into journalism early, editing my high school and college newspapers, then wrote for The Greenville (SC) News for 27 years.

Where do you write? What, if any, distractions do you allow? I write in a bright sunroom with five uncovered windows overlooking my backyard. My latest purchase is a metal riser that lifts my laptop so I don’t hunch over to read the screen. It’s a back saver! As far as distractions, I allow them all – coffee with friends, yard work, televised thrillers. I’m not writing for money at this stage, so I can take my time and enjoy the process.

Tell us about your writing process. Well, it’s inefficient, I’ll tell you that. I just jump in and start a scene or a book. As the characters and setting gain clarity, things occur to me. So, I go back frequently to add necessary scenes and plant clues. In Through Any Window, I was more than halfway through before I realized that I wanted the relationship between two sisters to be fleshed out. It meant moving some chapters around and adding flashbacks, but I think the novel became stronger.

What are you currently working on? I’m working on a book set on a fictional South Carolina barrier island. In The Last Beach Town, a prickly young woman inherits her family’s seaside home but arrives to find that her aunt’s murder is complicating the bequest.

Do you ever kill a popular character? If so, what happens to your story? I did this once, and it opened up an entirely new line of action. I loved the freedom it gave the manuscript. However, I had to defend the decision – vigorously – to my writers’ group. One member complained that I’d broken a contract with the reader. I was gratified that she cared enough about the character to object so vociferously!

Do you have subplots? If so, how do you weave them into the novel’s arc? You have to have subplots, I think. There’s only so much tension and “fear gripping her” that can be sustained within the main plot. The trick is to weave subplots in without losing sight or veering too far from the central storyline. My subplots crop up as I flesh out characters, and I try to be open to them. But in the book I’m writing, I have a subplot that I’m having trouble resolving. It may not survive the rewrite.

How do you raise the stakes for your protagonist—for the antagonist? Ah, the $64,000 question. I grow weary of books where the protagonist is forever being chased or stalked, but you do need her in a certain amount of fear and trepidation. Maybe you can plant worry about several things simultaneously. Perhaps you can hint at danger from a character she trusts. Or, my personal favorite, maybe you can have her pet behave oddly. (See Murder, Forgotten.)

Where do you place your settings—real or fictional locations? I use a mix of real and fictional locations but sometimes change the names of the real ones. That way, I have something in my head to describe, but I don’t have to worry about getting everything exactly right. In Murder, Forgotten, I used two real seacoasts I was familiar with – Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina, and the fishing village of Crail in Scotland. In Through Any Window, I use an urban park in my hometown but call it by a different name.

What is the best book you have ever read? Oh, my, what a difficult question. But certainly among the top five is We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. I finished it as my husband was driving me to guest preach in another city. I was so shell-shocked by the ending that I could hardly get out of the car.

Do you have any advice for new writers? Write what interests you, not what others tell you is hot or marketable. I think it’s impossible to predict what agents or publishers will be looking for 18 months from now. And writing a book is so laborious that you want to enjoy the world and characters you create. Also, know that your inner critic will raise her ugly head from time to time. Her presence is part of the process. Ignore her.

How do our readers contact you?

Email richardsonmoored@gmail.com
Web site www.debrichardsonmoore.com
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/deb.richardsonmoore/
Instagram https://www.instagram.com/debrichardsonmoore/
Publisher https://redadeptpublishing.com/
Just for fun https://booklisti.com/booklist/5-mysteries-twisted-me-into-knots-deb-richardson-moore/lx3x96y
Books are available
Amazon https://www.amazon.com/stores/Deb-Richardson-Moore/author/B008ALE12Y?
Fiction Addiction https://www.fiction-addiction.com/
M. Judson Booksellers https://mjudsonbooks.com/local-authors/
Facebook groups:
Upstate Sisters in  Crime: https://www.facebook.com/groups/upstatescsistersincrime
South Carolina Writers Association: https://www.facebook.com/groups/51934904087
Southern Authors and Readers: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1284419714917352
Partners in Crime Writing: https://www.facebook.com/groups/226018664078743
Friends and Fiction: https://www.facebook.com/groups/FriendsandFiction
Bookish Bibliophiles: https://www.facebook.com/groups/aliterarycoven

4 Comments

  1. John Schembra

    Interesting blog post. I share some of te same writing techniques with you, Good luck with your writing.

    Reply
  2. Michael A. Black

    It sounds like you’ve got a lot of great ideas for books, Reverend, and God bless you for the work you do with the homeless. That’s got to be very hard. Best of luck to you with your writing.

    Reply
    • George Cramer

      Thank you for posting with us. AND, thanks for the kind words.

      Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

PATY JAGER – Brings Westerns and Native American Stories

Paty Jager is an award-winning author of 55 novels, eight novellas, and numerous anthologies of murder mystery and western romance. All her work has Western or Native American elements, hints of humor, and engaging characters.Paty and her husband raise alfalfa hay in rural eastern Oregon. Riding horses and battling rattlesnakes, she not only writes about the Western lifestyle, but she also lives it.

Thank you, George, for inviting me to your blog. The Pinch, book 5 in my Spotted Pony Casino Mystery series, was published on February 22nd. It is available for pre-order.

Dela Alvaro, a disabled veteran and head of security for the Spotted Pony Casino, is doing a security check for a casino on the Oregon Coast when a child is kidnapped and Dela’s friend is murdered.

The idea for this story has been in my head for many years. I usually plan two writing retreats a year at the Oregon Coast. I stay a week and get a lot of writing done because I’m not catering to the animals or my husband. There aren’t any chores, and I write, walk on the beach, and write more.

On one such trip, I was walking along the beach, enjoying the briny salt air and the mist of the fog and waves. I noticed an older man with a boy about four or five out at the water’s edge. The boy was splashing and digging with a plastic shovel. I continued walking and noticed a boat close to the shore, or closer than any I’d witnessed before. My gaze gravitated to rocks sticking up out of the waves a good thirty or more feet from where the water lapped at the beach. Watching the splashing waves and enjoying the moment, I thought I saw the head of a seal bobbing by the rocks. That seemed dangerous, but they are good swimmers. I continued on and eventually turned around, heading back to where I’d entered the beach.

The boat was gone, and the older man walked up to the hotel without the boy. I looked around and didn’t see him anywhere. That was where my imagination kicked in. By the time I was back at the place I was staying, I’d come up with a kidnapping, a premise, and how it would play out. My only problem is that I was writing romance books at the time, and I didn’t see how to use this in western romance.

However, the idea stayed with me, and when I started writing mysteries, I kept coming back to the idea, trying first to make it fit with my character in the Shandra Higheagle mysteries, but I didn’t see how I could make it work. Then, when I started writing the Gabriel Hawke novels, I thought, now, I can use that story. But even though I took Hawke to Iceland for a book, I couldn’t find a plausible reason for him to be on the Oregon Coast.

Then came the Spotted Pony Casino mystery series and Dela Alvaro, my disabled veteran who is head of security for the Spotted Pony Casino on the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation. After four books where she has helped the FBI and Tribal Police track down killers, she has a reputation for running a tight security staff. She is invited to a Tribal casino on the Oregon Coast to help them tighten up security, and now I could finally see how my story and premise would play out.

When I decided now was the time to write the book, a friend and I went on a road trip to visit a casino on the Oregon Coast. I had planned to use that casino in the book. Still, when I started making fictional employees at the casino accomplices in the crime, I decided I needed a fictional casino. Then, my mind wasn’t tied to logistics anymore, either.

Even though I had visited the casino and talked to security staff, I kept running into things I hadn’t realized I’d need to know to write the story, and the emails I’d sent to the casino asking questions went unanswered. Having the epiphany to use a fictional casino as I do in the Spotted Pony Casino books freed up my mind to work on the kidnapping and murder rather than logistics.

This series points out the widespread danger that Indigenous people- mostly women, face. My main character lives with the fact that in high school, she left her best friend in a small town not far from the reservation because she didn’t want to leave when my character had to get back for basketball practice. She is found the next day murdered and sexually assaulted. In the first book where this character comes to life, Stolen Butterfly in my Gabriel Hawke novels, she helps find two women missing from the reservation and last seen at the casino.

In this book, she not only has to deal with a missing child but she is reunited with a best friend from her time in the military, only to have her murdered. One more slash to my character’s heart and one more spark to make her always find justice.

This book took a long time to come to fruition, but I believe it was worth it.

Recent Projects

I published Christmas Chaos in October to give readers of my Shandra Higheagle Mystery series some closure. A short story with Dela and Heath characters in my Spotted Pony Casino Mystery series is available in the Windtree Press Whispers anthology.

Blurb / Long- Dela Alvaro, head of security for the Spotted Pony Casino, is asked to do a security check of a casino on the Oregon Coast. She no sooner starts her rounds at the casino than a child is kidnapped. The parents are a dubious couple. Special Agent Quinn Pierce of the FBI has been out to get the father for some time.

One of Dela’s best friends from the Army appears, and they catch up, only to find her friend strangled the next morning after having divulged to Dela she may have photos of the kidnapping.

As Dela struggles with the violent death of yet another best friend, her lover, Tribal Officer Heath Seaver, arrives, and the two begin untangling the lies, bribes, and murders.

In the end, as Heath carries the child to safety, Dela must face a cunning killer alone.

Blurb / Short – Dela Alvaro, a disabled veteran and head of security for the Spotted Pony Casino, is doing a security check for a casino on the Oregon Coast when a child is kidnapped and Dela’s friend is murdered.

Groups I belong to:
Crimescene writers loop
Sisters in Crime
Niwa
Alli
Author’s Guild
20 Books 50
Links
Book link for The Pinch – Universal book link- https://books2read.com/u/38Y787
Social Media Links
TikTok – @authorpatyjager
Instagram – @patymjager
YouTube – @PatyJager
Facebook – Author Paty Jager
Twitter – @patyjag
website – https://www.patyjager.net
blogs – https://ladiesofmystery.com and https://writingintothesunset.net

10 Comments

  1. Pamela Ruth Meyer

    Wow, George and Paty, this was a great post. It’s reassuring to know that the spark of an idea can last that long. It’s inspirational, really. Thanks, and best of luck with your launch of THE PINCH, Paty.

    Reply
    • Paty Jager

      Pamela, thank you! Yes, it was an idea that hung in there until the right book came along. Thank you for stopping by and commenting!

      Reply
  2. Carl Vonderau

    It’s amazing where the stories come from. Your fiction writing mind is always at work. The books sounds great.

    Reply
    • Paty Jager

      Carl, Thank you. Yes, I have an active imagination and it keeps stories coming at me faster than I can write them.

      Reply
  3. Peg Roche

    Looking forward to reading “The Pinch”. I can picture the setting and am interested in your lead character. Those twice a year retreats sound like a great idea! Good luck with this new book. Thanks for the introduction, George!

    Reply
    • Paty Jager

      Peg, Thank you for stopping in and commenting. I do enjoy my retreats and get a lot accomplished when I’m there.

      Reply
  4. Kathleen Kaska

    I enjoyed reading about your latest mystery. You are such a prolific writer!

    Reply
    • Paty Jager

      Hi Kathleen, Thank you! I have fun coming up with the premises and hopefully enlightening people as well as entertaining them.

      Reply
  5. Michael A. Black

    Sounds like you use your powers of observation to come up with new plots, which is really neat. Your series sounds fascinating, but I have to ask…. did you ever find out what happened to the little boy? Best of luck to you.

    Reply
    • Paty Jager

      Hi Michael, No. I never knew what happened to the little boy. I never saw the older man again either. It is one of those mysteries that will rattle around in head and help me to come up with other scenarios for books.

      Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

JENNIFER J. CHOW – Cozies and Fortune Cookies

Jennifer J. Chow writes cozies filled with hope and heritage. She is an Agatha, Anthony, and Lefty Award-nominated author. Her newest series is the Magical Fortune Cookie mysteries; the first book is Ill-Fated Fortune (February 2024). Jennifer’s previous series is the L.A. Night Market Mysteries. Death by Bubble Tea was reviewed by the New York Times, featured in Woman’s World, and hit the SoCal Indie Bestseller List.

Jennifer currently serves as Immediate Past President on the board of Sisters in Crime and blogs at chicksonthecase.com. She is an active member of Crime Writers of Color and Mystery Writers of America

Felicity Jin and her mother run a magical bakery in the quaint town of Pixie, California. Their life is charmed—until a prediction from one of Felicity’s handmade fortune cookies comes true in an unlucky, murderous way.

Researching the Fortune Cookie  – Book research takes you down unexpected paths. When I first thought up my new series, I figured fortune cookies would be an excellent treat for my baker protagonist to make. I mean, what’s more Chinese American than a fortune cookie?

Turns out there’s a lot of interesting history (and some drama) behind the humble cookie. I’d grown up eating and serving a lot of fortune cookies. My family, after all, owned a Chinese restaurant. At the end of every meal, I’d be sure to bring a customer their check along with a free fortune cookie.

Little did I know then that in uncovering the convoluted history of the fortune cookie, I’d find Japanese roots. After online research and a thorough reading of Jennifer 8. Lee’s The Fortune Cookie Chronicles, I traced the cookie’s origin to tsujiura senbei. This wafer-like cookie from the Kyoto region of Japan also has an enclosed fortune, although it has a more savory flavor than the modern fortune cookie.

In America, California is definitely the birthplace of the fortune cookie, with entrepreneurs from San Francisco and Los Angeles claiming to be the original makers of the cookie. And around World War II, both Japanese and Chinese restaurants appeared to serve the treat. With the incarceration of Japanese Americans during that tumultuous period, though, the manufacturers of the cookies shifted. Chinese bakeries started making fortune cookies—and eventually developed a mechanized process to mass-produce them.

So, through my research, I learned that fortune cookies aren’t tied to my Chinese roots like I’d expected. I hint at this fact in Ill-Fated Fortune, the first in my Magical Fortune Cookie mysteries. However, they could be considered American—at least the sweet vanilla version. In the end, I guess that factoid accurately reflects my main character: Felicity Jin, the third generation in her family to live in the U.S.

Connect with Jennifer online and sign up for her newsletter at JenniferJChow.com

Ill-Fated Fortune released 2/20/24

Here’s a buy link: https://read.macmillan.com/lp/ill-fated-fortune/

FACEBOOK GROUPS (though I’m not really that active anymore):
https://www.facebook.com/groups/DialCforCozy
https://www.facebook.com/groups/726103940858234/

8 Comments

  1. Carl Vonderau

    I didn’t know that fascinating history about fortune cookies. Sounds like a great series.

    Reply
  2. Michael A. Black

    Jennifer, I just broke open my fortune cookie and it says: Ms. Chow will have much good fortune and success. It sounds like you’re riding the crest of the wave. Best of luck to you.

    Reply
    • Jennifer J. Chow

      Ha, Michael! That’d be an amazing fortune. Thank you!

      Reply
  3. Margaret Mizushima

    How cool, Jennifer! I’ll have to tell my husband about this. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • Jennifer J. Chow

      Hurrah, Margaret! And, yes, let your husband know.

      Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

BRUCE LEWIS – Journalist to Author

Bruce Lewis graduated from California State University at Long Beach with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. After completing the 36-week Copley Newspaper Training Program, working as a reporter for six California daily and weekly newspapers, he began a seven-year career as a general assignment reporter. During that period, he wrote over 5,000 stories and won six awards for best news and feature writing. He specialized in crime news, going undercover with cops and covering the courts, sheriffs, California Highway Patrol, and fire districts.

His post-retirement bucket list included writing one novel. That novel, Human Strays (published originally in November of 2021 under a different name and title), was intended to be his one and only. Like most writers, he got the fiction-writing bug. He wrote and published four novels in three years: 1-Angel of Mercy, 2-Human Strays, 3-Family Curse, 4-The Red Flock, and the novelette Love Storm. He is working on his fifth novel in the series, Bless Me, Father—For You Have Sinned.

After retiring and settling in Portland, Oregon, Bruce created a bucket list:

  • Create a family genealogy (completed in 2020)
  • Write a novel (completed in 2020)
  • Kick the bucket (just joking)

“The idea for my first thriller, Human Strays, baked for a decade before I wrote it. The idea came from a pro bono project I took on to benefit the Mendocino Coast Humane Society (MCHS),” said Lewis. “One of my fellow Mendocino Rotarians, the chair of the Human Society Board of Directors, asked me to help promote The Ark, the Society’s thrift store, a major source of funds to support its mission. As president and co-founder of Lewis & Summers Public Relations (based in Lafayette, California), it was a natural extension of work I was already doing for a half dozen clients on the coast.”

Bruce toured the Humane Society to help plan his fundraising strategy to save and house stray cats and dogs. An hour later, Lewis was coming out of a supermarket in Fort Bragg, where a homeless man dug food scraps out of a trash can.

“Buy a sandwich,” I said, handing him five dollars. He looked at it, stuck it in his pocket, and continued his treasure hunt, swallowing a few ounces of leftover soda from someone’s fast-food lunch.

“That evening, it hit me: homeless humans are strays like the dogs and cats temporarily housed at the shelter. They sleep outdoors and scrounge for food to survive.”

The First Novel –  Fast forward ten years to 2015, when Lewis retired: “My wife and I had moved to Portland, Oregon, where I began drafting Human Strays. The book’s theme is about veterinarian Jim Briggs’s effort to save a drug-addicted homeless woman by finding her a permanent home. If he could save one, Briggs figured he could save others.

Lewis said he wrote the book over two years, working primarily at Ovation, a busy coffee shop on the edge of Portland’s Field Park, under the Fremont Bridge.

“I’d walk a mile to the coffee shop with my laptop, write for an hour or two, then walk home. During these strolls, I thought of new characters, how to write scenes, and how to fix the organizational mess I created by using nifty author software to move chapters freely from one location to another. A steady diet of Moroccan Lattes and right-out-of-the-oven toasted coconut scones fueled my writing. The exercise walks didn’t hurt.”

“On any day at the coffee shop, I could be surrounded by a hubbub of cyclists getting their caffeine fix, women from a nearby yoga class gossiping about their lives, or a group of young mothers in hijabs giggling, and I could tune it out. That’s the beauty of being a newspaper crime reporter for seven years, turning out copy every day on deadline in a chaotic newsroom.”

Because of that experience, he says he can write for an hour, wash a load of clothes, eat lunch, read a book, and then come back and write more with no problem getting back into the story.

Writing What You Know – Human Strays is filled with unsheltered characters, primarily based on homeless people Lewis had observed on his daily walks, looking for ideas and photos for his blog, WalkingPDX. He often combined several homeless people he observed into a single character, careful not to make a person identifiable.

When he finished Human Strays, he pitched it to numerous agents and publishers before he found an independent publisher with more than 500 authors under contract.

Despite having written some 8,000 stories during his newspaper and public relations careers, he discovered he had much to learn about writing fiction when he turned in his manuscript. Six weeks later, the rejection letter said, ‘I’m sorry, we won’t be representing you. Our reviewer said the writing was good, but there was too much tell and too little show. It might be too much to fix. But good luck.’

“I laugh about it now,” said Lewis. “I had to Google show versus tell. I looked at some examples and rewrote the book in six weeks, adding about 20,000 words of show. The updated version of the manuscript was accepted two weeks after he re-submitted it.

The Writing Bug – Like most writers who publish a novel, Lewis got the fiction-writing bug. He wrote and published four novels in three years: 1-Angel of Mercy, 2-Human Strays, 3-Family Curse, 4-The Red Flock, and the romantic mystery Love Storm. He is currently working on his fifth novel in the series, Bless Me, Father—For You Have Sinned (Summer 2024).

Asked if he is a pantser (someone who writes by the seat of his pants) or a plotter (plots every chapter before starting), Lewis smiled and said, “I’m a plotting pantser.” I create a one-page outline—one chapter per line—and then write by the seat of my pants. I can visualize scenes and write them as if I were there. I believe that’s the result of covering hundreds of news events as a reporter.”

Asked how he could have a veterinarian as a protagonist in his books without having been one. “Easy,” he said. “I had dogs for 25 years, met many vets, and learned about dog care first-hand, including putting down our Beagle, Mac.” When in doubt, he visited the website of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

Writing What You Know – “Of course, I make up stuff, but a good amount of my novels are sprinkled with lived experiences, like Veterinarian Jim Briggs saying goodbye to his dying mother in Human Strays:

Briggs leaned over and whispered to Susie, “I love you, Mom. I’ll miss you.” An instant later, her head flew off the pillow, her eyes bulging with terror, inches from Brigg’s face. He jumped back. Just as quickly, she lay back down, as inert as before.

Lewis confided, “This is just how it happened when I removed my Mom from life support on Mother’s Day 2004.

Bruce Lewis – Author

Website: http://www.TheAngelOfMercy.com
Email:  blewis16@icloud.com
Instagram: PDXWalker

3 Comments

  1. Deven Greene

    Thanks for the interesting insight into your writing career. Even though you are no longer working against a newspaper deadline, you are very productive! While generally “unseen,” the unhoused are an important topic of discussion these days. Best of luck with your next book, Bless Me Father–For You Have Sinned. Interesting title!

    Reply
  2. Michael A. Black

    A lot of reporters gravitate naturally to fiction writing. Your background seems to be tailor made for this. Good luck with your writing, but be careful around those homeless people. I found them sad but sometimes unpredictable and volatile. Good luck with your new book.

    Reply
  3. Pamela Ruth Meyer

    A model for bucket lists the world over. Inspiring post. Thanks, George and Bruce.

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

JOAN LONG -A Locked Room Author

Joan Long is the author of the locked-room-style mystery THE FINALIST, which was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best First Novel. She is a third-generation Floridian who earned a degree in English/Creative Writing from Florida State University and a graduate degree in Journalism and Communications from The University of Florida. She has written for universities, public television, healthcare corporations, a magazine, and more.

Joan was a finalist in a Minotaur Books/Malice Domestic Best First Mystery Novel Competition and was a short-listed finalist for a William Faulkner-William Wisdom Award for Best Novel-in-Progress. Her short story “The Extra Ingredient” is published in the Anthony Award-winning anthology Malice Domestic 14: Mystery Most Edible.

Has an association membership helped you with your writing? Absolutely! Joining writing associations is probably the best thing I’ve done for my writing career. I’m a member of Sisters in Crime and its Guppy chapter, Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and the Authors Guild. Through these organizations, I continually learn the craft and business of writing. They also help me make connections with other authors. I’ve met some of my best friends through these groups.

How do you come up with character names? I use multiple sources—baby registries, online name generators, old phone books, and church directories. I try to begin each name with a different letter and vary the syllable lengths. As a reader, I find it confusing when character names are too similar. And because I want to be nice to audiobook narrators, my main characters’ names don’t end in s or th.

Do you outline, or are you a pantser? Outlining works best for me. I begin with a logline, followed by a brief synopsis and the outline. However, my outlines constantly change. They evolve as the story grows.

What kind of research do you do? Setting is an important element in my debut novel, The Finalist. Because the story takes place on a tropical island, I researched plants, flowers, local foods, charter boats, satellite radios, and—ahem!—how long it takes a person to dig a grave in sand.

Where do you place your settings—real or fictional locations? I prefer fictional settings that are loosely based on real locations. Key Island—the fictional location of The Finalist—takes place on a private island in the Caribbean. My work-in-progress is set in Florida in a fictional community near the Gulf of Mexico. Obviously, I like to write about warm-weather places!

Do you have any advice for new writers? I recommend learning the craft and becoming active in a writing community. I also suggest keeping a “Happiness Journal” or something similar. Remembering the great things that happen can help on days when writing is a challenge. Did you receive a wonderful blurb or a five-star review? Did you find your book in a library? Has your word count increased? Whatever it is that made your day, write it down. One of my favorite moments happened when I was going up an escalator. A woman riding the down escalator recognized me and shouted, “I’m reading your book!” I smile every time I think about it.

Many thanks to George Cramer for inviting me to post on his blog.

My website is https://joanlongbooks.com.

Here is my buy info:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09MSRF932
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-finalist-joan-long/1141005243
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/search?query=joan+long
IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781685120597
Books-A-Million: https://www.booksamillion.com/p/Finalist/Joan-Long/9781685120597
Bookshop: https://bookshop.org/books/the-finalist/9781685120597
Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-finalist/id1610738358
Walmart: https://walmart.com/ip/The-Finalist-Paperback-9781685

 

12 Comments

  1. Deb Richardson-Moore

    I love your settings and will pick up one of your books. Thanks for the interview, George.

    Reply
  2. Kathleen Kaska

    I enjoyed the interview, Joan and George. Your books look right us my alley, Joan. I will check it out. I like the idea of keeping a Happiness Journey!

    Reply
    • Joan Long

      Thank you so much, Kathleen! I hope you enjoy The Finalist.

      Reply
  3. Lida Sideris

    I love the idea of a Happiness Journal. Brilliant! And I loved reading The Finalist – a gripping, page turner, all the way.

    Reply
    • Joan Long

      Thank you, Lida! I’m so glad you enjoyed The Finalist!

      Reply
  4. Pamela Ruth Meyer

    Joan, your escalator story is contagious. LOVE IT! Best of luck with THE FINALIST!

    Reply
  5. Beth Schmelzer

    I love Joan Long’s locked room mystery novel. She’s a fun, encouraging novelist. The advice to keep a happiness journal mirrors my Inspiration Journal which I peruse often for happy feelings and a muse.

    Reply
    • Joan Long

      Thank you so much, Beth! I appreciate that, and I love that we both keep journals to bring us joy and inspiration!

      Reply
  6. Michael A. Black

    Excellent writing advice, Joan. I love your suggestion about maintaining a happiness journal. Your escalator story made me smile. Good luck with your writing.

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

LENORE HART – A GOOD HORROR STORY

Lenore Hart is the author of eight novels and editor of the fantastic fiction anthology series The Night Bazaar. A Shirley Jackson Award finalist, she’s also published short stories in fantasy magazines and literary journals. She’s been a recipient of grants, awards, and writing fellowships from the NEA and arts organizations in Florida, Virginia, Ireland, and Germany. Her work has been featured on “Voice of America” radio and the PBS-TV series “Writer to Writer.” She teaches at The Ossabaw Island Writers Retreat. Her most recent release is The Night Bazaar London: Ten Tales of Forbidden Wishes and Dangerous Desires. (Northampton House Press, Dec.)

“A good horror has its place in literature.” – Thomas Hardy (Tess of the D’Urbervilles)

Mr. Hardy, how right you were. I write novels in horror and several other genres: historical, literary, contemporary, horror, and dark fantasy. I’m also the editor of a fantastic fiction anthology series called The Night Bazaar. Some writers consider it odd not to specialize, much less mix several genres in one work. I see no contradiction. Reality is certainly tinged with horror at times – from the personal sort to horrific events on the world stage. And, as a category, horror has been ubiquitous in both genre and literary works, including gothic works by 19th-century authors revered in the literary canon. The genre persists and travels well.

I began my writing career decades ago, tired of passive female characters in plots (mostly) conceived by men: warm bodies who said little and screamed much, hoping for rescue by a male protagonist. I first wrote gothic fiction to create the female heroes I’d wanted to read.

I expected this choice to be questioned, but hadn’t expected to be reviled or verbally abused. But one such encounter in the mid-1990s occurred at a crowded booksellers’ conference in Atlanta. I was talking to the owner of a regional press about my first novel, which was set in Florida, where he was based. “Oh, horror. I never read it. I wouldn’t tolerate it in my office. It’s not literature but despicable junk. Morally reprehensible,” he concluded, smirking at others in the booth.

I was suddenly conscious of the people around me, a silent, complicit audience to his contempt and intended shaming. I briefly doubted the wisdom of my choice.

But he’d said, I never read it. Then how could he intelligently judge? He wasn’t merely  being sanctimonious but reveling in ignorance of the entire genre. Did he also consider Edgar Allan Poe’s works’ morally reprehensible’? Was Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, one of the purest examples of gothic fiction ever written, really ‘despicable junk’? If so, then Shakespeare, Mary Shelley, Sheridan Le Fanu, Ambrose Bierce, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Shirley Jackson must also be simply genre hacks posing as literati.

Is some genre work slipshod? Sure. As are some so-called ‘literary novels.’ I should’ve said, “Novels of horror, fantasy science fiction, or any other genre can be, and often are endowed with the same craftsmanship as ‘fine’ literature.” Over the years, this has remained the case in works by such writers as Vincent LaValle (The Changeling), Stephen Graham Jones (The Only Good Indians), and Jess Kidd (The Night Ship). But I was new to publishing back then, unsure of myself, and simply departed, fuming.

Reticence is no longer the default, though – for me or for horror. Several aspects of the new ascendance of the genre are thrilling. For one, it’s been widely recognized as not just worthy and legitimate but a desirable part of the literary conversation – as should’ve been the case all along. Also, delightful is the merging over the last few years of horror with some of my own lifelong interests – myths, folktales, and fairytales – in the currently popular subgenre of Folk Horror. Those themes are timeless. Every possible plot and character type inhabits these dreamlike, compelling, archetypal stories, whatever culture they originate from.

For human beings, it seems, a bit of fright is pleasurable. Aristotle claimed we could get fear out of our systems by indulging in it safely through the arts. This may be partly why horror’s popularity persists, but it’s more complicated. As children, we experienced fear and mystery daily, inhabiting a world we did not comprehend. One built to a larger scale than we could cope with, run by strange, sometimes threatening ogres called adults. We existed at the mercy of everything and everyone: the neighbor’s growling dog and needle-wielding nurses. The darkness in the closet and under the bed. Aware of our helplessness and the frequent, patronizing refusal of adults to help or even listen. No wonder children identify with the protagonists in scary stories!

I read at adult level by age nine, and my parents were not nearly as vigilant as those of today. Also, a Saturday afternoon horror double-feature was at a nearby rococo hole-in-the-wall called the Vogue Theater. Sometimes, I went with my little sister, at others with two boys from the neighborhood who were competing for my affection. I sat in the middle, and each held one of my hands while giant grasshoppers, leech women, or triffids loomed between the worn red velvet curtains.

At home, though, I read scary fiction in solitude. I craved the barely-glimpsed terrors of an ancient manor in a Poe story, the unseen but horribly perceived presence of ghosts in Shirley Jackson’s novels. Not the bloody, ham-handed slasher plots or the laughably obvious monsters in poorly crafted paperbacks. The stories that captivated me didn’t bludgeon their audience. Instead, they lulled the reader into a sense of safe but pleasurable anticipation, stretching taut nerves until they sang, then allowing one to emerge unscathed after savoring strong emotions and impossible fears without risk.

The most vivid, well-crafted chills have always been delivered by authors who mostly keep the horror just offstage, wisely understanding they could never create anything to outdo their readers’ personal ideas of ultimate terror. Often, they isolate the protagonist, physically or psychologically, much the way a child dwells alone in an oversized world, his warnings or cries falling on deaf ears. How much more satisfying it feels to get a handle on this fear later, after having already read and viewed it, experiencing intense dread for a limited time, yet emerging unscathed.

When I was nine, I liked being scared. Many decades later, I still do – by a well-crafted book or film. It’s cathartic. Far less frightening than the all-too-real threats of climate change, endless wars, and economic doom.

Horror fiction will endure, challenging us to safely consider the unthinkable, venture from our comfort zones, and challenge our preconceptions. There, we can confront and face down our greatest fears and yet survive. The horror authors will survive as well because readers will always need them.
I belong to the writers’ organizations below and, in some cases, serve on their boards:

The Connecticut Poetry Society
The European Writers Council
North Florida Writers
The Historical Novel Society
The Horror Writers Association
The Irish Copyright Licensing Agency (managerial board)
The Irish Writers Centre
The Irish Writers Union (executive board)
Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America
Society of Authors (Ireland)
Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (Fellow, member of Boxwood Collective)

AMAZON
Trade paperback: https://www.amazon.com/Night-Bazaar-London-Forbidden-Dangerous/dp/1950668223/ref=sr_1_1?qid=1703701296&refinements=p_27%3ALenore+Hart&s=books&sr=1-1

Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/Night-Bazaar-London-Forbidden-Dangerous-ebook/dp/B0CPW5SDVR/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1703701868&sr=1-1

B&NPaperback: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/book/1144471075?ean=9781950668229
eBook:https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/book/1144471075?ean=2940185963500

KOBO eBook: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-night-bazaar-london

INDIEBOUND/BOOKSHOP Trade paperback: https://bookshop.org/p/books/the-night-bazaar-london-ten-tales-of-forbidden-wishes-and-dangerous-desires-lenore-hart/20980323?ean=9781950668229

 

 

 

4 Comments

  1. Michael A. Black

    Good thoughtful essay, Lenore. I agree, good writing is good writing, no matter what the genre. I just finished a novel in which I had Ambrose Bierce as a character. I remember reading “The Damned Thing” as a youngster and it scared the bejesus outta me. Congratulations on winning the Shirley Jackson Award and best of luck to you.

    Reply
    • Lenore Hart

      Thanks, Michael. Bierce should make a great character!

      Reply
  2. G.M. Malliet

    Love Shirley Jackson stories. Congrats on such a prestigious award.

    Reply
    • Lenore Hart

      Thanks! She’s definitely one of my writing heroes. That made it even more exciting.

      Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

G.M. MALLIET – Mystery and Cozy Mystery

G.M. Malliet is an American award-winning author of mystery and cozy mystery novels. She is best known for writing the Agatha Award-winning Death of a Cozy Writer (2008), the first installment of the St. Just Mystery Series, named among the Best Books of 2008 by Kirkus Reviews.

 

The holder of degrees from Oxford University and the University of Cambridge, G.M. Malliet has wide experience in journalism and copywriting. Before switching to fiction writing, she wrote for national and international news publications (Thomson Reuters) and public broadcasters (PBS). She currently resides in the U.S.

Elevator Pitch: Max Tudor thought he’d left the world of deceit when he resigned from MI5 to become an Anglican priest. Then his bishop asks him to return to his Oxford college, St Luke’s, to investigate the death of its chaplain, and Max realizes there’s no leaving the past behind.

What brought you to writing? Writing was always just there. It’s the kind of thing you are compelled to do rather than take up idly on a whim. The longer I live, the more I wish I could cut back on the writing, but that compulsion is still there.

Where do you write? What, if any, distractions do you allow? My office is right in the middle of a several-story house, so it’s Grand Central Station. I think that might just be what I’m comfortable with. If I have too much quiet, I can’t really work.

Tell us about your writing process: The early stages of writing are always the fun part when you’re not committed to anything. That’s where the joy comes in.

What is the most challenging part of your writing process? What are you currently working on? Book 6 in the St. Just series. It is called Death and the Old Master.

Has an association membership helped you with your writing? Both SinC and MWA have provided friendships with seasoned experts willing to share their expertise.

How do you come up with character names? Like most authors, I use a baby naming site or the Census records.

Do you ever kill a popular character? I wanted to kill an early Max Tudor character. St. Martin’s wouldn’t allow it. I still regret caving.

G.M. Malliet is a member of:
Crime Writers’ Association (U.K.),
International Thriller Writers,
Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance,
Mystery Writers of America,
Sisters in Crime (former National Board member).

Contact me:
Website: Gmmalliet.com
Email me at gm at gmmalliet dot com.
I can’t always answer, but I love fan mail 😉

 

14 Comments

  1. Glenda Carroll

    “It’s fun but … it’s not.” Glad to hear someone else say that. I think that’s my motto. Get interview.

    Reply
    • G.M. Malliet

      There’s a meme or whatever going around FB that says, “We don’t do this because it’s easy. We do it because we thought it would be easy.” That sums it up perfectly, doesn’t it?

      Reply
  2. Joseph Bryce HAGGERTY Sr

    I’m sorry I don’t understand not being committed to anything when you start writing. I am always committed the story I have in my head. I’ll grant you the story doesn’t always go the way I intended, but I don’t think I was would have started writing if I wasn’t committed to the story.

    Reply
    • G.M. Malliet

      I’m committed (probably) to the place or theme or characters. but at the beginning, wide open!

      Reply
  3. Michal Strutin

    “…the fun part” indeed! On the reader end, just starting a new mystery is also fun. It so happens that the one I’m starting this evening is The Washing Away of Wrongs.

    Reply
    • G.M. Malliet

      Thank you Michal! I hope you like it!

      Reply
  4. Vinnie Hansen

    I enjoyed learning more about you, G.M.

    Reply
    • G.M. Malliet

      Thank you. So glad George gave me the opening!

      Reply
  5. Karen A Phillips

    Thanks for sharing “I wanted to kill an early Max Tudor character. St. Martin’s wouldn’t allow it. I still regret caving.” It is always interesting for me to hear what it’s like to be an author with a traditional publisher.

    Reply
    • G.M. Malliet

      Publishers tend to want to keep doing what worked in the past for them. But that means they miss a chance to break out into new areas.

      Reply
  6. Michael A. Black

    Ms. Malliet, I loved your comment abut your favorite part of writing is the early stages when you’re not committed to anything. So true. Best of luck to you.

    Reply
    • G.M. Malliet

      So true, yes. Right now I’m editing a short story and fixing the “Little Problems” that crop up as I go along. It’s fun but … it’s not.

      Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

JUNE GILLAM – Social Justice Crime Fiction / Indie to Traditional

June Gillam writes the Hillary Broome crime fiction series. She is sketching out a new thriller trilogy she’ll fine tune at 2024’s Thrillerfest in New York. A native of California’s Central Valley, June loves the company of writers and readers and was honored with a Jack London Award for service to the writing community. Just out on Audible is Nest of White Crows, book five in the Hillary Broome series.

Legacy of the Wild Vines, book six in the Hillary Broome Crime Fiction series, to be released in spring 2024:

In Legacy of the Wild Vines, a professor on a summer trip to Rome tries to keep her sixteen-year-old gay daughter safe amidst a rash of kidnappings, but when her daughter vanishes, the professor must probe the secrets of a remote Italian village to help find her daughter before it’s too late.

June at the 2023 CA State Fair Authors Booth

Along with Archy the cockroach, “expression is the need of my soul,” as the little poet typed onto paper left in columnist Don Marquis’ typewriter at the Chicago Sun Times office back in the mid-20th century. Archy typed no capital E since he could not operate the shift key with his tiny body flung as he did every night when the journalists went home. For details, see E. B. White’s “From The Best of Archy and Mehitabel.” https://rb.gy/604efi

Like Archy, I started out as a poet and then an academic papers writer until I was hired as a full-time faculty member in English at San Joaquin Delta College in 1990. It was then it hit me that I didn’t know how to write stories even though many of my poems wanted to become stories. Over the next ten years, I studied fiction and had a few short stories published, then took the craft deeper as part of my doctoral work in Transformative Learning and Change at the California Institute of Integral Studies. My dissertation was a cooperative inquiry, published in 2009 as a monography: Women Writing Stories Containing Conflict. I was thrilled.

However, Lambert Academic Publishing priced it at well over $100 and I could not get them to reduce the price. That was when I decided I wanted to be in control of my price points. As a result, Gorilla Girl Ink was born as my imprint and has published all my books: poetry, writing, fiction, and just last year, a children’s picture book with my daughter as illustrator.

So, I’ve been an Indie-published writer since 2012 with Gorilla Girl Ink. Thanks to the support of fantastic sister writers and critique groups along the way, I’ve had a bit of success and enjoyed the ride. But Indie publishing is a lot of work beyond the writing. It includes finding, hiring, and supervising editors, cover designers, formatters, etc. Recently, a medium-sized publisher, Bedazzled Ink, has approached me because of the platform I’ve built with Gorilla Girl Ink. They are interested in publishing my next book, a thriller trilogy set in San Francisco and Lake Tahoe.

The pros and cons of Indie vs Trad publishing are presented on websites such as the well-balanced Book Bub and Writers Digest assessments.

https://insights.bookbub.com/indie-vs-traditional-publishing-which-path-right-you/

And https://www.writersdigest.com/getting-published/17-pros-and-cons-of-traditional-publishing-vs-self-publishing#:~:text=Traditional%20Publishing%20Pros&text=Traditional%20publishers%20do%20not%20charge,upfront%20payments%20are%20not%20legitimate.

Although not every point in these comparisons holds true all the time, they are worth the effort to consider. After more than ten years as an Indie, I am now ready to focus my time on my writing rather than the publishing of it. I am eager to turn over the publishing tasks to Bedazzled Ink and concentrate on writing, marketing, and teaching workshops, which I enjoy. https://www.bedazzledink.com

My advice for new writers is to join a writer’s group for support and camaraderie. Take a look to see if the San Joaquin Valley Writers branch of the CA Writers Club could be a good fit for you. Check us out at https://www.sjvalleywriters.org 

Readers may contact me about my books and upcoming workshops starting in February at https://www.junegillam.com/contact

Groups I belong to include
San Joaquin Valley Writers
Capitol Crimes, Sisters in Crime
Mystery Writers of America
Gold Country Writers

Links to buy my work:
Nest of White Crows, Hillary Broome book 5, Audible https://rb.gy/462wuh
June Gillam’s Amazon Author Page: https://amzn.to/2ZX5OjK

9 Comments

  1. Michal Strutin

    My first fiction (just finished my second) was published by Bedazzled. They have an excellent contract, based on the Authors Guild model contract. Helpful and easy to work with.

    Reply
  2. Karen A Phillips

    Hi June – I’m excited to hear about your upcoming trilogy set in San Francisco and Lake Tahoe! Good luck with Bedazzled.

    Reply
  3. Nancy Schoellkopf

    Congrats, June, on the new trilogy and the new publisher. Eager to hear more about both!

    Reply
  4. Rebecca Partridge

    I look forward to reading Nest of Crows. I enjoyed House of Hoops–especially with its Sacramento setting. Best wishes as you start working with Bedazzled Ink. Are they a hybrid or a traditional press?

    Reply
    • June Gillam

      Hi Rebecca. They are a medium sized traditional publisher. They are in the Bay Area and we spoke at a couple events then they asked me to lunch and we came to an understanding. Super excited!

      Reply
  5. Michael A. Black

    You’ve got an interesting background, June, and writing poetry is an excellent way to develop your prose skills as well. Best of luck to you on your new series.

    Reply
  6. Bill VanPatten

    I highly recommend Nest of White Crows! I’m privy to a draft of The Legacy of Wild Vines and know it will be well received.

    Reply
    • June Gillam

      Thanks, Bill. I’m honored by praise from a terrific writer like yourself!

      Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *