M.E. ROCHE – Loves Writing & Follows Characters

I’m the product of a Midwest upbringing, but I’ve lived on both coasts as well as in Ireland. As a registered nurse, I’ve had the opportunity to work in many facets of nursing. Once officially retired, I began volunteering with the local coroner—part of the sheriff’s department—in northern California.

My favorite books have always been mysteries.

What brought me to writing? I first decided to try my hand at writing when I discovered there were so few books written about or by nurses and nothing for young readers since the student nurse mysteries of the 1950s. I started with three young adult mysteries modeled on those early works. I liked the writing process—of having a character tell me where the story would go—and when I decided to bring my student nurses into adulthood, I began writing for an adult audience, and now I have an additional three mysteries and two standalones.

New Book My newly released novel, TOOTS, is a historical stand-alone work based on one of my great aunts, one of my grandmother’s sisters. Growing up, I only knew my aunt as living with my grandmother. She was quiet but warm and generally retreated to somewhere quieter in the house when my family of eight kids arrived. I don’t remember ever having any extended conversation. We were told that her husband and children had died in a fire, and she had come back to her family in Chicago from wherever they had been living. I began thinking about this story several years ago, and I wanted to know more, but there was no one from that generation left to ask. And so I began trolling the memories of my siblings and cousins, but they were no wiser

Research TOOTS required spending a lot of time with Ancestry.com and Newspapers.com and my local genealogy people at the library. The amount of information out there is amazing. My grandmother and her sister, Toots, came over from Ireland by themselves at ages 12 and 10. They came to work as servants—first in New York and later in Chicago. My grandmother married and stayed in Chicago, but Toots met and married a homesteader from Nebraska. So many questions! I began by tracking down the ship manifests. Census reports, marriage records, obituaries, and homestead records. Finally, I made a road trip to Nebraska to see the homestead for myself. But then…what happened after Nebraska?

I discovered that there is also a ton of information to be found in obituaries. A good example: I knew my grandfather was a train conductor on the Northwestern railroad, but I had always thought of him as a passenger conductor (he had passed before I was born); his obituary stated he was a freight conductor! Tracking down the routes—possibly through Nebraska—that his train would have taken in 1915 led me to the tiny town of Albion in Nebraska, where my aunt’s husband’s homestead happened to be. There is no one alive to verify my guess, but I’d say my grandfather played matchmaker for his sister-in-law!

Setting the Location: I think it’s important to know something about the setting of one’s story, which is why I felt the need to see Nebraska. How many people plan to visit Nebraska? It was, however, a great experience—visiting the Homestead museum and learning something about the Dust Bowl period, of which I knew little beyond The Grapes of Wrath. It is beautiful farm country; the cover for TOOTS is a photo of their homestead. Similarly, I lived in San Francisco and northern California for some time, as well as in Boston, so I enjoy adding bits of local color to stories set in those locations.

Writing Process My writing process is changing. I’ve always felt most creative in the early morning hours, but not so much now. I do my own editing and preparation for publishing, and the more I write, the more time it takes to complete these non-creative tasks. I’ve discovered that my head doesn’t work for editing in the early morning. So now, I have coffee, walk, have breakfast, and then work on editing. But as I finish those tasks required by a new book, I think I’m almost ready to start writing something creative again. We’ll see.

Current Project Before turning to the final edits and publishing aspects of TOOTS, I finished the first draft of a mystery that spans the two coasts and centers on an arson group of firefighters in Boston. In the first re-read of that draft, I saw some serious problems, and now I’m looking forward to seeing what can be done to fix those problems. After that, I have the start of a black widow murder mystery.

Please visit my website and sign up for my newsletter at https://www.meroche.com, where I am now adding a section for Book Clubs with questions and personal recipes.

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VICTORIA KAZARIAN – How I Went from Baking in Real Life to Baking in Books

Victoria Kazarian writes The Laughing Loaf Bakery Mysteries, a culinary cozy mystery series set in the redwoods of the Santa Cruz Mountains in Northern California. For two years, she owned a bakery of her own called The Laughing Loaf, baking homestyle, artisanal, and French levain breads. Based in Silicon Valley, she also writes a police procedural series, Silicon Valley Murder.

What got you into baking? For years, I wrote for the high tech world—first as a tech writer, producing user manuals for a software company, then I moved on to writing marketing and advertising for software and high-tech companies. What eventually drove me crazy was the fact that I was writing about something that was not tangible. You can tap away on a computer and see what software does on a screen, but you can’t hold, touch, taste, or smell software.

When I was growing up, my father baked bread for fun. I loved watching him–seeing the bread go from a lump of dough to the beautifully domed browned loaf you pull out of the oven. Bread smells like happiness. After I left high tech, I started baking at home. I dreamed of doing it as a job.

Why did you quit your bakery business? Before I first started The Laughing Loaf in 2013, I went to a great organization in Santa Clara County called SCORE, which advises new business owners. I was assigned a couple of retired businessmen who asked me detailed questions and wanted to see my business plan. They quickly pinpointed my downfall—distribution. I had no cost-effective way to get bread into people’s hands. I delivered most of my orders myself. This personal delivery fed my soul but not my bank account. I loved connecting with people. Some of my regular customers became friends. But I ended up working a grueling schedule for no profit. Eventually, I closed down the business. As if I needed another reason to stop, my husband was diagnosed with gluten intolerance around the same time.

How did you end up writing your bakery cozy series? In 2021, I published my first book, Swift Horses Racing, in my Silicon Valley Murder police procedural series. Even as I continued writing police procedurals, I wanted to use my bakery experience to write a culinary cozy mystery.

The character of Gracie Markley began to form in my head. Gracie works in tech in Seattle, but when she finds out her husband is selling defense tech secrets to foreign governments, she turns him in. Witness Protection relocates Gracie, her professor father, and her little dog Biga to a small town in the Northern California redwoods.

Burnt out by her life in tech, Gracie opens a bakery, using bread recipes she baked with her father growing up. The Laughing Loaf Bakery becomes a gathering place in the small town of River Grove, bringing people together over bread, baked goods, and coffee. She uses her tech problem-solving skills as she investigates murders that pop up in town.

I published Drop Dead Bread, the first in The Laughing Loaf Bakery Mysteries, in 2022. Each of the books includes recipes from the original Laughing Loaf Bakery. I’ve just released Sourdough and Cyanide, which includes instructions for making your own sourdough starter and sourdough loaf and recipes for using all that discard you end up with.

Will you continue with cozies? My cozy series is doing better than my police procedurals, so I’m sticking with them. I read a lot of cozies to prepare for writing this series, and I let go of some misconceptions. Cozies can have humor, but they don’t have to be silly. And the people in them don’t have to be caricatures; they can be real human beings. One value I love in cozies is community—a safe place where people support and accept each other. That, and freshly baked bread, is something everybody wants.

To contact Victoria, drop her a line at TheLaughingLoaf@gmail.com
To buy The Laughing Loaf Mysteries go to: https://a.co/d/cdSskRg
You can find out more about The Laughing Loaf Mysteries at https://a.co/d/cdSskRg and see what Victoria is up to at https://victoriakazarian.com/ She’s on Instagram at vkazarian1 and on Facebook at Victoria Kazarian, Author

4 Comments

  1. Pam

    As someone who has read all of the Laughing Loaf stories, I have wondered about your life as a baker. I’m sorry that your “soul-feeding” career didn’t work out, but glad that you turned your focus to writing. I regularly bake one of the bread recipes from your series, and can attest to your wizardry with a “lump of dough!”

    Lovely interview and fun pictures!

    Reply
  2. Robin Somers

    That’s hilarious, in a sad way—your husband’s gluten intolerance. One door closes, another opens. In your case, the oven to the book cover. Terrific interview and I love the image of your dad and your discussion of what a cozy can be.

    Reply
  3. Victoria Kazarian

    Thank you, Michael. I like that—offing someone with a baguette. Then slice it and make brushetta to get rid of the evidence…

    Reply
  4. Michael A. Black

    Nicely done, Victoria. Good luck with your writing. While I don’t bake myself, I always thought that a long loaf of French bread might make an interesting weapon in a story.

    Reply

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M.E. PROCTOR – With Busy Background–She Prefers Writing Fiction

M.E. Proctor was a freelance journalist for a music magazine and an advertising account executive before becoming a corporate communications advisor. She prefers writing fiction.

She is the author of four dystopian science fiction novels, The Savage Crown Series, and a short story collection, Family and Other Ailments – Crime Stories Close to Home (2023, Wordwooze Publishing).

The first book in her Declan Shaw detective series, Love You Till Tuesday, comes out in August 2024 from Shotgun Honey.

Proctor is a Derringer nominee. Her fiction has appeared in various anthologies and magazines: Vautrin, Stone’s Throw, Mystery Tribune, Black Cat Weekly, Thriller Magazine, and Bristol Noir, among others. Born in Brussels and a long-time Houston resident, she now lives in Livingston, Texas, with her husband, James Lee Proctor, who is also a writer.

Elevator Pitch for Family and Other Ailments: Blood ties, the family we’ve been given, the friends we make, the loves we keep, and those we lose. The twenty-six stories in this collection vacillate on the brink, hovering at the periphery of the possibility of crime. Under a certain light, at an angle, they’re all love stories.

About writing in multiple genres: One of the joys of writing short fiction is genre-hopping. I mostly write crime these days, but I occasionally dip a toe in horror. “Quiet” horror—Stories where everyday life turns into something else and reality starts slipping. A few of these are included in the Family and Other Ailments collection. The dividing line between crime and horror is often blurry. I’m still interested in science fiction and even if I don’t plan to add books to the Savage Crown series, I write short stories when I feel the urge to leave the planet. I think it’s healthy to mix things up. Switching between working on a book and writing short stories keeps things fresh. It’s like varying your workout to exercise different muscles.

The writing process: I’m a short fiction improviser. A story can start with an image, a sentence, or a line of dialogue. I don’t have it all mapped in my head. For example, a girl sits at a window and watches a wasp walk the length of the barrel of the rifle she’s holding. I don’t know who she is or what she’s planning to do. Or what she’s done already. The answers come as the story is being written. No Recoil is one of the pieces in the collection. It starts with the girl and the wasp.

The process is different for a book. I don’t do a real outline, but I have enough of a story idea to start writing a few chapters and get momentum going. Not all the characters are lined up, and the ending is up in the air. After a hundred pages or so, I write a rough storyline: A happens, then B, C, this is character X’s arc, etc. I know where the book is going. The big bullet points are nailed down. Things will still change, especially the finale, and secondary characters might get a bigger role, but I have a handrail I can rely on to avoid getting stuck.

Current projects: A retro-noir novella with a fellow crime writer. I’ve never written in collaboration. It’s an interesting experience. We started with a short story idea, and the manuscript grew bigger. It’s a double POV plot, and we go back and forth between his character and mine. I enjoyed the ping-pong. What if we do this? What happens next, throwing ideas against the wall? We completed a first draft a few weeks ago and are now in the polishing phase. I’ve been obsessing about this project for the past two months, so everything else has been put on the back burner.

Now, I have to work on the very last edits and the preparation for the launch of Love You Till Tuesday, the first book in my Declan Shaw detective series. It comes out in August from publisher Shotgun Honey. There’s more in store for Declan, including a project I started last fall that I feel a strong pull to get back into. The more I write about the guy, the better I know him, and the more time I want to spend with him; a good sign when you plan a series with a recurrent character!

Apart from that, I have short stories in upcoming anthologies and a free Substack newsletter I release every other Thursday – The Roll Top Desk—conversations about books and writing. I’ve been doing it for a year and a half. It’s a nice change of pace from writing fiction.

About writing from the perspective of the opposite sex: A few months ago, I was preparing for a reading, and I expected questions about writing from a female or male point of view. I went through the 26 stories in the collection and counted how many I had on each side. The tally came to thirteen girls/women and twelve boys/guys. One story doesn’t count; it’s a news report.

For me, choosing a main character falls in the same category as deciding to tell the story in first person or third, present or past tense. It’s what feels right for what I want to say. One of the stories in the book Hour of the Bat is inspired by an Edward Hopper painting, Summer Evening. It shows a young couple having a conversation. Looking at it, I knew the story had to be about the girl because of the expression on her face. And it would have to be in first person. It felt natural. I heard her voice.

The main protagonist of my detective books is male. His name popped into my head before I knew what he was doing for a living and what nettles I would drag him through. Declan Shaw was born on my back porch one Labor Day weekend out of the blue. Where the name came from is a mystery (the only Declan I know is Elvis Costello/Declan MacManus). When I stepped in his shoes, I gave him some of my personality traits and added a scoop of attitude and restlessness. To make sure I get the masculine vibe right, all my beta readers are guys. The first and toughest reviewer is my husband. A couple of times, he told me: A man would never say that. I think I got it now.

Favorite author: More than one, as my bookshelves and the library on my e-reader will confirm. It’s a hard choice, but I’ll pick Georges Simenon. I grew up with his books all over the house. Lots of books, the man was insanely prolific. I’ve always been a fast reader, consuming the novels by the pound. My admiration for his work has only increased with time. His writing is deceptively simple. It looks effortless, basic almost, but he catches characters with one line, sometimes with a single word. He’s so good at finding the fault line in mundane situations, the unease behind the appearances. A family at a dinner table, a couple that’s been married a long time, the simmering resentment, the weight of silence, all the things that are not said between lines of dialogue. It’s brilliant.

How do our readers contact you:
I’m on Facebook – Martine Elise Proctor – https://www.facebook.com/martine.proctor
Substack is a good option, too, at The Roll Top Desk – https://meproctor.substack.com
And there’s a contact button on my website: https://www.shawmystery.com
All the format options for the short story collection, Family and Other Ailments, are here:
https://books2read.com/u/3Lx0v5
The science fiction series and all the anthologies are on my Author page on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/stores/M.E.-Proctor/author/B009JE9JWI/allbooks

Groups:
Facebook:
Short Mystery Fiction Society: https://www.facebook.com/groups/608752359277585
Crime Fiction Writers: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1307945053456724
Criminally Good Reads: https://www.facebook.com/groups/5356552667708259
Thriller, Mystery and Suspense Writers: https://www.facebook.com/groups/290472645391267
Sisters In Crime: https://sistersincrime.tradewing.com/community
On LinkedIn:
Fiction Writers Group: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/12178764/
Writers and Illustrators Circle: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/3723330/
Detective Fiction Writer’s Group: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/4911106/

15 Comments

  1. John Schembra

    Quite a diverse writing style, and background! Interesting point about writing from the prospective of the opposite sex. I’ve found that challenging, to put it simply!

    Reply
    • Martine Proctor

      I often have that conversation with male writers. Some are a bit nervous about it. I believe in finding the empathy and then asking beta readers to comment. If it sounds wrong, they’ll tell you!

      Reply
  2. Pamela Ruth Meyer

    Martine, I was interested in your discussion of writing from the perspective of one’s opposite sex. I have less access to beta readers who are male.
    I wonder, though, if the majority of one’s readers are female, maybe those female readers would enjoy a male character’s perspective that FEELS like what THEY (as women) envision or hope for. What do you and George think?

    Reply
    • Martine Proctor

      I’m guilty of putting in some of my male protagonists attitudes or behaviors that appeal to me (even if I don’t write romance!). I have to be careful about being “too cuddly”, but once the guys start acting and speaking in the stories, they pretty much do their own thing. My male beta readers find very little to criticize, so I guess I channeled them properly. After all we live and work together. It isn’t another species 🙂

      Reply
    • George Cramer

      My debut novel, The Mona Lisa Sisters, was primarily from a woman’s POV. Once I got into the swing of it, it was a hoot. I was lucky to have four or five lady friends read as I went along. With only a few suggestions and much support, I was off to the races.

      Once published, not one woman reader complained about the POV.

      So, those sitting on the fence, give it a try.

      Reply
  3. Rhonda Blackhurst

    Like Michael, I like the visual of the wasp on the rifle barrel. Even she did fire the gun before the stroll–the visual was enjoyable. As a mystery novelist, I’ve just recently (the past couple of years) tried my hand at shorter fiction. It’s far more difficult than I thought it would be but helps tighten up my novels. I look forward to reading yours.

    Reply
    • Martine Proctor

      Thank you, Rhonda. Yes, short fiction teaches you to go for the essential. It’s a different rhythm though. There’s a lot of intensity in short fiction, in a book, relaxation is needed. That tightness cannot be sustained without fatigue over 85,000 words.

      Reply
  4. Donna

    Although some already congratulate you i just want to do the same thing congrats I am also a staving writer lol

    Reply
  5. Michael A. Black

    Excellent interview and cogent writing advice, Ms. Proctor. I loved he image of the wasp walking on the rifle barrel. Now that would be a true test of a sniper’s moxie. Best of luck to you on your new one.

    Reply
    • Martine Proctor

      Thank you, Michael. I don’t like wasps 🙂 – if you read the story, you’ll know that the girl fired the gun before the wasp took a stroll…. does it make a difference?

      Reply
  6. Jim Guigli

    I love Martine’s writing. And, she was kind enough to grant me a blurb about one of my short stories.

    Reply
  7. Jacqueline Seewald

    Congratulations on your new novel! Wishing you much success.

    Reply

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LAURIE STEVENS – Battles AI in Her Latest Novel

Laurie Stevens is the author of the Gabriel McRay thriller series. Her books have won twelve awards, including Kirkus Review’s “Best of” and a Random House Editors’ Book of the Month. International Thriller Writers says she’s “cracked the code” regarding writing psychological suspense, while Suspense Magazine claims she’s the “leader of the pack.”

Laurie’s short stories have appeared in many anthologies and magazines, and she co-edited the Sisters in Crime anthology Fatally Haunted. Laurie’s newest novel, THE RETURN (just released in January), pits human consciousness against artificial intelligence.

ELEVATOR PITCH: Completely reliant on automation and artificial intelligence to run their lives, human beings struggle to survive when a war destroys all the power grids across the globe. Pitting human consciousness against AI, The Return is a timely, suspenseful story of human survival, coming-of-age love, and the true power unleashed when our human hearts connect.

Do you write in more than one genre? When I completed the Gabriel McRay psychological suspense series, I thought I was strictly a crime fiction writer. Then, I began researching the tech that’s upcoming (yikes!) and got the idea for The Return, which is not only a sci-fi/fantasy but a Young Adult crossover. Quite a change!

Was it difficult to change genres? Changing genres blew me out of my comfort zone, for sure. I’m working on a psychological suspense stand-alone novel right now, and writing it feels like a visit with an old friend. That said, I really enjoyed exploring the sci-fi and fantasy elements of the new book. I never intended The Return to be YA, but my editor was once a middle-grade English teacher and said, ‘Do you realize you’ve hit all the hallmarks of a YA novel? I would recommend this to my students!”

Your Gabriel McRay novels featured a male detective, and The Return also features a young male protagonist. What’s the most challenging thing about writing characters from the opposite sex? When I first wrote the character of Gabriel McRay, I asked my husband if he hated shaving every day and other things like that, but then Gabriel sort of took over and began writing himself. A creative writing class at UCLA dissected my second book, Deep into Dusk, and most of the students enjoyed the “role reversals,” where Gabriel has a feminine side and his medical examiner girlfriend, Dr. Ming Li, has a masculine side. I swear I didn’t try to switch them up. Aiden Baylor, the protagonist from The Return, is a young man facing the challenges many young men face. Having a son made my job easier, but placing this young man in a future world created its own set of challenges. Teen crushes may never change, but how a kid 75 years from now pursues his interests is another story.

What kind of research did you do? To build a world dependent entirely on automation and tech, I spoke with tech professionals, got my subscription to Wired and other tech magazines, and read fiction books like Blake Crouch’s Upgrade and non-fiction such as The Fourth Age by Byran Reese. In the book The Digital World “Unplugs,” I had to research how people once lived off the land. I don’t mind. I am a research junkie. It’s my favorite part of the writing process.

Tell us a little about your new book. Well, you might have gathered a little info from the previous paragraph. Here’s the logline: Completely reliant on automation and artificial intelligence to manage their lives, human beings learn to survive, bond, and unlock the power of their minds when a war destroys all the power grids across the globe.

Believe it or not, I based the story on a question inspired by the biblical story of Adam and Eve and their expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Why would God kick Adam and Eve out of Eden because they gained wisdom and awareness? What’s so bad about knowledge? I explore a possible answer in this book.

Do you have any advice for new writers? An acquisitions editor from a publishing house once asked me if I had any vampire manuscripts lying around or perhaps a story about wizards at a boarding school (you can imagine about what year this took place). I said, “No, I have a manuscript about a traumatized Los Angeles male detective, and every case he works triggers a key point in his psychological recovery.” That went over like a lead balloon with this editor. My advice is, you have to make a choice. If being published means the world to you, and an editor asks if you have a vampire manuscript, go home and write one.

If the message in your heart is of utmost importance to you, write it and hope it resonates with the gatekeepers or better yet – the readers.

How do our readers contact you?
You can always see my books at https://lauriestevensbooks.com
To get in touch with me, laurie@lauriestevensbooks.com

THE RETURN is available at:
Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/The-Return-Amazon
Barnes and Noble https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-return-laurie-stevens/1144524026?ean=9798223883234
Kobo https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-return-250
Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-return/id6474872190
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1497892

Thanks for having me as a guest blogger. It’s been fun!
Laurie

2 Comments

  1. Michael A. Black

    Congratulations on your success, Laurie. You sound like you’ve got some great ideas and books. Your interview was an inspiration. Now I’m going to bow the dust off that unhappy vampire masquerading as a wizard at that boarding school for exceptional youths. 😉 Best of luck to you.

    Reply
  2. Marie Sutro

    Wow!! Sounds like a fantastic story!

    Reply

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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.
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Katie and Maverick Cozy Mysteries
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Webpage: www.maryseifertauthor.com
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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

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