Saturday, February 6, 2016

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blogathon Day 207 -- Author Sandra Orchard

FICTION FRIDAY -- BONUS DOUBLE FEATURE 

Thanks for stopping by. This is my second interview for the Fiction Friday feature in a row because I'm playing catch up. Now I'm caught up. The next feature will appear on time next Friday. Thank you for your patience. Now on with the interview...



Please welcome...


Author Sandra Orchard  


Tell us about your journey to become a published author?


I began writing fiction in late 2004 and attended my first writers' conference in 2006, where I signed my first agent. Although I received some requests, intense interest didn't grow until I won the 2009 Daphne DuMaurier Award of Excellence. The next year I signed my first contract and this year will see the release of books 11 and 12. Networking with authors through conferences, online groups and workshops, exchanging critiques with others, paying for some critiques, contest feedback, reading tons of books on writing craft, and of course, writing, writing, writing were all part (and continue to be part) of the journey.                


What sparked the idea for this series?


It was a combination of wanting to write a more light-hearted series with a couple of potential love interests (think Stephanie Plum), but with a competent heroine. And reading a newspaper article about Alain Lacoursière, a Montreal police detective who founded one of the top art-theft units in the world. The FBI estimates that the international black market in art is worth about $6-billion a year and it is now believed to be the second biggest source of income for at least one terrorist group. Sounded like great fodder for a series, right?


Tell us about your latest release.


A Fool and His Monet is the first book in Serena Jones Mysteries.  Serena is a plucky FBI art crime agent forging her way through a museum of lies to expose the ruthless mastermind behind the recent theft of a priceless painting.

Her passion for uncovering lost and stolen art is surpassed only by her zeal to uncover the truth about the art thief who murdered her grandfather. She’s joined the FBI Art Crime Team with the secret hope that one of her cases will lead to his killer. Now, despite her mother’s pleas to do something safer—like get married and give her grandkids—Serena’s hot on a new case--a Monet stolen from the local museum. The clues point in different directions and her boss orders her to cease investigating her most promising suspect. But determined to solve the case, and perhaps discover another clue in her grandfather’s case, she pushes ahead, regardless of the danger.

Give five words that best describe this book. What message do you hope readers get?  


Laugh-out-loud-funny, mind-spinning adventure, fun, fast-paced whodunit

I hope readers will gain a new perspective on the value of pursuing art crime investigations, and do a little soul-searching on what their price might be.             

Give us one or two of your favorite lines from this book.


I'm pretty sure this is not what my mom meant when she said I needed more men in my life.
His gaze skittered from my Glock to my face, his lips curving into a grin. "Is today's word of the day 'paranoia'?"            

Tell us about your writing space and your daily routine.


I have a fabulous office. One wall has a huge bulletin board on it that I use as a storyboard and a long counter sits below it to organize notes and research material. I have a U-shaped desk with all reference materials easily at hand, not that I use my desktop computer much, because...I have a gravity chair in the corner where I do most of my writing on my laptop.

What’s one of your favorite reviews/comments you’ve ever received about your writing (on this book or any other)? Who did it come from and how did it impact you?


My favourite notes from readers are ones that inform me that my book kept them up half the night, because they couldn't put it down. I received the same comment from different readers and reviewers for many of my Love Inspired Suspense titles and my Port Aster Secrets titles.                


What’s your biggest struggle as a writer (or what was your worst critique)? And how do/did you handle it?


My worst critique came through a contest in which my entry came dead last. Basically my heroine wasn't likeable. I dug in and rewrote and rewrote to supply the motivation to justify her actions and thoughts and in the end, the manuscript became my debut novel with Harlequin.


What is the high point of your career, so far?


Winning the 2015 National Readers' Choice Award with my editor at my side at my first RWA in NYC was a lot of fun. I'm also excited to be nominated for an RT Book Reviews Reviewers' Choice Award. I won this award in 2012 and especially appreciate it, because it's not based on who decided to enter. Your book is up against every single book the reviewers read in that category, which in mine is 72.


What was the low point of your career? And how did you handle it?            


When my sixth Harlequin novel didn't rank high enough in the newly expanded line (ranks are based on the number of books each author releasing that month has already published) and the book never made it into any of my local Walmarts. It was extremely frustrating. I urged fans to order online, but many of my older readers were not comfortable doing that. My income was cut in half.     

What’s your favorite book on the writing craft or your favorite piece of advice to writers?

Sol Stein On Writing is a great book on writing for both fiction and non-fiction writers.

What’s next on your writing journey?

I am working on the third book in my Serena Jones Mysteries series and planning a fourth.

To visit Sandra online, go to...


www.SandraOrchard.com
www.Facebook.com/SandraOrchard
www.https://www.pinterest.com/AuthorSOrchard/
http://bit.ly/Goodreads_SandraO"         

And to buy Sandra’s books, check out…


http://bit.ly/amzn-AFAM
http://bit.ly/BN-AFAM
http://bit.ly/kobo-AFAM
http://bit.ly/i-books-AFAM
http://bit.ly/BAM-AFAM
http://www.bookdepository.com/Fool-His-Monet-Sandra-Orchard/9780800726713


If you're an author and would like your thriller, mystery, romantic suspense, or suspense novel featured, please fill out the interview at: 


AUTHOR INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blogathon Day 206 -- Fiction Friday -- Sheila Lowe


Sorry, guys. I'm playing catch up. I'm on the mend from being pretty sick for a few weeks and under insane deadlines at my full time job. But it looks as if I'm through the worst of both of those for the time being. So hopefully, I'll get back to this regularly now. 

Without further adieu, I welcome as our Fiction Friday Featured Author... 

Sheila Lowe

Tell us about your journey to become a published author?


I was first published in nonfiction in 2000 when my first book, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Handwriting Analysis came out, followed by Handwriting of the Famous & Infamous. Since it had been so easy to get those books on the market, I was in for a rude awakening when I wrote my first novel, Poison Pen. It took 7 years and numerous rewrites from the time I won 3rd place in a contest to getting a starred review in Publisher's Weekly.


What sparked the idea for this series?


As a forensic handwriting analyst for many years, people kept telling me I should write a book. Although most of the cases I handle are fairly mundane, there are times when I think, hmm, that might make an interesting story. I use only the kernel of an idea to build the story around. In fact, I always come up with a title first, and then find the story.                  

Tell us about your latest release.


I've just turned in the 6th book in the Forensic Handwriting Mystery series and hope to see it in publication in Spring 2016. Outside the Lines has to do with ecoterrorism and a protagonist dealing with PTSD. This is the second book in the series where much of the story is told from the point of view of LAPD Detective Joel Jovanic, the fiance of my main protagonist, Claudia Rose. My readers really like their relationship and since Joel seemed to want to come forward again, I was happy to let him talk.


Give five words that best describe this book. What message do you hope readers get?


Suspenseful, Realistic, Surprising             

Give us one or two of your favorite lines from this book.


Two-hundred and fifty pounds of muscle slammed Claudia against the witness stand with the impact of a baby hippo.
“Blowing things up and killing people isn’t going to get the kind of attention you want, is it?”

Tell us about your writing space and your daily routine.


I have a large semi-circular desk known as "the command center," which takes up half my kitchen. There are three monitors that always cause visitors to say, ""wow, how many screens do you need?!"" Three, apparently.

Routine? What's that? Since my first career is as a handwriting examiner, my writing time depends on the cases on my desk. I seem to be most productive in the evening. Or maybe it's just that I waste a lot of time on the internet during the day and then it's "oh crap" time when I realize I haven't done anything productive. I make a list and there are certain things that must be done before I can call it a night."     

What’s one of your favorite reviews/comments you’ve ever received about your writing (on this book or any other)? Who did it come from and how did it impact you?


My favorite comments are from readers who tell me they had to stay up all night to see what happened. That's the best compliment ever.
My favorite review was the Starred Review by Publisher's Weekly when they called Poison Pen "a dynamite debut." I felt like a real writer. "  

What’s your biggest struggle as a writer (or what was your worst critique)? And how do/did you handle it?


I don't feel like I have a great imagination, so plotting is the hardest part for me. But I have a terrific critique group who do come up with some wonderful ideas when I get stuck. I owe whatever success I've had to them.        

What is the high point of your career, so far?


Making a deal with Penguin made me feel validated. Seeing the carton of books when Poison Pen came out was exhilarating. Even better was receiving a carton of the second book, Written in Blood.

What was the low point of your career? And how did you handle it?


"A real low point was when my wonderful editor left Penguin and the new editor wasn't interesting in continuing my series. Thinking I would be with Penguin for a long time I'd spent a significant amount of money publicizing the first four books. That was an investment that didn't pay off.
I handled it by writing a standalone and self-publishing it, then writing the next series book and publishing it with Suspense Publishing (the same people who produce Suspense Magazine).

Give us the name of a recent book you’ve read that you would highly recommend to readers.


I read in a fairly narrow range of mystery writers. Not sure anything stands out lately, though I did like Michael Connelly's latest, The Burning Room. John Sandford is my favorite and I consistently love his two series.

What’s next on your writing journey?


That's the question of the hour! And I hope to get an answer soon.


What’s your favorite book on the writing craft or your favorite piece of advice to writers?


Cut out as many adverbs ("ly" words) and gerunds ("ing" words) as you can and you'll have a stronger book. Sometimes those words are needed, but when you get carried away with them, they're an indicator of lazy writing. I like SmartEdit software, which lets you run tests to show where all the adverbs are, the repeated words, etc. It's quite amazing and humbling to see how many escape notice while you're writing. THANK YOU!            


Where can we find you online?


LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/sheilalowe
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/sheila_lowe
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/graphogoddess
Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.com/author/sheilalowe
Goodreads Author page: https://www.goodreads.com/SheilaLowe

If you want to find Sheila’s work online, check out

Poison Pen: http://amzn.com/B01AYJM068
Written in Blood: http://amzn.to/1owdEFD
             

(Author’s Note: Some of my books are currently only available in paperback. They will be back in ebook soon, I hope.)


If you're an author and would like your thriller, mystery, romantic suspense, or suspense novel featured, please fill out the interview at: 



AUTHOR INTERVIEW QUESTIONS


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blogathon Day 205 -- Hot Links Saturday

Hot Links Saturday -- Week's Top 5 Publishing Links  

Between the 9-to-5 kicking my butt this week and an awful cough I've been mentally out of it. Just coming back to myself. I'll start posting regularly later this week or at least early next week. Thanks for your patience.

Thinking of Publishing a Book, Here are Three Things You Need To Know...

Good advice is always useful to read. These are three pieces we can always stand to be reminded of even if we know -- especially #3. 

From Indie Author to 6- (and 7!) Figure Traditionally Pubbed Book Deal

Write because you love it, but if this happens, enjoy! 

Indie Publishers and Self-Publishing: The Future of Authorship

 Always interesting to see how the market across the pond mirrors ours. 

How Indie Authors Can Use PreOrders to Crack Bestseller Lists

Excellent information, but no information on numbers. 

The  Upstart Pub Behind the Surprise Hit, 'Calendar Girl'

I read this one more for the strategy than the story.


 

Friday, January 22, 2016

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365 Day Blogathon Day 204 -- Fiction Friday with Nina Mansfield




Today's author is...

Nina Mansfield

Welcome!!


Tell us about your journey to become a published author?

I started my writing career as a playwright, and had my first play produced and published quite a few years ago. It was about 10 years ago that I decided I wanted to write a young adult novel. I was teaching high school at the time, and my students craved books with suspense and action. I wanted to write a novel that would intrigue even the most reluctant reader. The summer after my first year teaching, I finished writing the first draft of what would eventually become SWIMMING ALONE. Many, many rewrites and query letters later, I had a publication offer.   
    

Now, tell us about your latest release.

SWIMMING ALONE is a young adult mystery appropriate for readers 12+...although I have had many adults read the book and really enjoy it. The Sea Side Strangler is on the loose in Beach Point, where fifteen-year-old Cathy Banks is spending what she thinks will be a wretched summer. Just when she begins to make friends, and even finds a crush to drool over, her new friend Lauren vanishes.  When a body surfaces in Beach Point Bay, Cathy is forced to face the question:  has the Sea Side Strangler struck again?             
             

Give us one or two of your favorite lines from this book.

One of my favorite lines from SWIMMING ALONE is the first line of the book. Here it is:

Leave it to my mentally unstable, common sense impaired parents to ship me off to the only town in America with an active serial killer on the loose."

Tell us about your writing space and your daily routine.

I usually write either at the dining room table or sitting on my bed with my laptop. These days, my daily routine really varies. I tend to write in the evenings for an hour or so. Sometimes, I get a little writing done in the afternoon while my toddler is napping.  
      

What’s one of your favorite reviews/comments you’ve ever received about your writing (on this book or any other)? Who did it come from and how did it impact you?

John Valeri of the Hartford Books Examiner called SWIMMING ALONE "a wise and witty mystery." This meant so much coming from him. Whenever I get a good review or positive comment about a piece of my writing, I am motivated to write more.  
           

What’s your biggest struggle as a writer (or what was your worst critique)? And how do/did you handle it?

I guess my biggest struggle is finding time to write and staying focused. These days, I am a stay-at-home mom to a very active toddler. I mistakenly thought that staying at home would give me more time to write. I am constantly working on finding a few minute here and there to get my writing done. I also have trouble staying focused on one project. I have so many ideas, and I love starting a new piece of writing. Starting is one thing, finishing is quite another!       
   

What is the high point of your career, so far?

I guess the publication of SWIMMING ALONE has been a major high point. But there have been others. I was thrilled a number of years ago to have a story published in ELLERY QUEEN. Also, a few years ago, my short play BITE ME was produced by City Theatre in Miami. That was the first Equity production of one of my plays, so that was pretty incredible.     

What was the low point of your career? And how did you handle it?

I remember when I first started sending SWIMMING ALONE out to agents. I got many, many rejections. Ultimately, I realized that the manuscript wasn't ready yet. After attending an SCBWI conference, I decided to do another major rewrite of the book. I really focused on voice. It was immediately after I completed that rewrite that I landed my agent.           
      

Give us the name of a recent book you’ve read that you would highly recommend to readers.

I recently read TRAIL OF SECRETS by Laura Wolfe. It is also a YA mystery, and I found it very hard to put down. I was totally sucked into the world that Wolfe created. TRAIL OF SECRETS takes place at the elite Foxwoode Riding Academy. Not only does she have to deal with snooty girls who look down on her non-leather riding boots, but she keeps seeing the ghost of a girl who disappeared four years ago. It was a real page turner. And I loved that it was a YA that focused on the mystery rather than the romance.          

What’s next on your writing journey?

" have two projects in the works. The first is a graphic novel that is being released by Plume Snake in late 2016. It's called FAKE ID: BEYOND RECOGNITION, and it is a girl-power adventure. Seventeen-year-old Minnie VanCutler suffers an identity crisis after using the wrong fake ID. Aside from waking up with the world’s worst hangover, and being chased down by Russian mobsters, Minnie must battle her over-active conscience and rescue her doppelganger from a human trafficking ring.
I am also working on the rewrite of another YA novel. This one is a paranormal thriller. I am hoping to have this current revision done very soon!

What’s your favorite book on the writing craft or your favorite piece of advice to writers?

The best piece of advice I have ever heard was: "Don't be afraid to write a bad first draft." I can't remember who said this or when or where I heard this advice, but it has been very helpful. So often we writers try to get it perfect the first time around. But for me, it really helps to get my thoughts on paper first and fix them later.    

Thanks so much for stopping by today, Nina!!   

To find her online visit…

"My website: http://www.ninamansfield.com
My blog: http://www.ninamansfield.com/blog1
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/NinaMansfieldWriter
Twitter: https://twitter.com/NinaJMansfield
Pintrest: https://www.pinterest.com/ninamwriter/
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4279557   
         

And to pick up her latest release, visit:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B013Y4WE48
Smashwords:  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/569442


If you're an author and would like your thriller, mystery, romantic suspense, or suspense novel featured, please fill out the interview at: 


AUTHOR INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

       

Saturday, January 16, 2016

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blogathon Day 203 -- Hot Links Saturday

Hot Links Saturday -- Top 5 Publishing Links

Self Publishing Preview - 2016 

This is from Publisher's Weekly...yes, that Publisher's Weekly. When I started publishing PW wouldn't put Self and Publishing together in the same sentence let alone write a preview about authors. So the article itself is kind of amazing but the content is interesting also...

Penguin Random House sells Author Solutions 

The purchase of Author Solutions by big publishers was one of those things I knew would fail. I think they thought droves of indie authors would flood the business with a Big 5 name attached to it, but the problem is pricing...and indie authors probably caught onto the fact that using them wouldn't lead to a big 5 contract. So, I think this is as it should be. Amazon wins? No...I don't think so. Not from this anyway. 

How James Patterson helped Reinvent Publishing

I'm not a die-hard fan although I like some of his books, especially those for my son. But this article is spot on. Definitely one to read. 

How to Publish a Book In Different Genres

I wondered whether this was a trick statement. It's not. Check it out.

Are Small Independent Publishers Doing the Work for Big Publishers? 

This is interesting...but the same can be said for indie publishers too. More and more Literary Agents and Big 5 publishers reject authors that go on to indie publish or sign up with small presses and become successful...and then what happens? Yeah, you know the drill. This is an interesting read nonetheless.


Friday, January 15, 2016

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blogathon Day 201 -- Fiction Friday -- L.C. Hayden









Today's author is...

L.C. Hayden

Welcome!!


Tell us about your journey to become a published author.

Like everyone else, I wrote my book and dreamed that a major New York publisher would accept it--this is before anyone ever conceived of the idea of an e-book--and turn the book into an instant success. Ten years later, my book was accepted by a small, independent publisher. Because it was a small publishing house, a month after my book was published, the publisher went under. I was at a loss as to what to do. I had worked so hard to get my book published. I attended a conference and a man approached me.
"That's a shame about your publishing house. What are you going to do?"
I shrugged.
"I have an idea. Give me your address and phone number."
I did. After he walked away, I thought, That was stupid. I just gave a complete stranger my address and phone number.
When I got home, a letter for me awaited. There was a check for $1,000 and a contract for my book. Turns out he was a publisher! "

What sparked the idea for this series? 

 A failed idea!
 I wrote my first book and the main character was Susan who needed police help so she turned to Harry Bronson. That was my idea. Bronson would not be the central character of any of my books. He would just be there to help the main character. After the book released--and after three more books--fans were screaming, "We want a Harry Bronson novel." Thus the "first" one in the series, Why Casey Had to Die, was born.
  
Tell us about your latest release.

Secrets of the Tunnels, a stand alone mystery. A stolen Chinese treasure, corruption, a fight for power, murder, and betrayal are all connected to the tunnels. And the roads that lead to them are paved with lies, betrayal, and murder. Can Connie survive the Secrets of the Tunnels? This edge of the seat thriller will leave the readers breathless and will keep them turning the pages. 
             
Give five words that best describe this book. What message do you hope readers get? 

Fast-read, suspenseful, surprises, twists, survival.

Give us one or two of your favorite lines from this book.      
With the judge’s snap decision, Maria lost everything. Tony, her reputation, her reason for living. 

Tell us about your writing space and your daily routine. 

I have an area in my house that is my writing room although it's an open space that opens to the living room, the dining room, and my husband's man cave. When I get up, I work on promotion--answering e-mails, doing Facebook, etc. Then time to write. I'm trying something new. All my other books--all 18 of them--have been written long hand. The one I'm currently working on--a new Harry Bronson mystery--will be my first one written using the computer. Call me Modern L. C.

What’s one of your favorite reviews/comments you’ve ever received about your writing (on this book or any other)? Who did it come from and how did it impact you? 

I've have had several similar comments about my angel series. People who are dying or are close to someone dying, have written to me telling me how much my books has helped them coped with their misfortune. As for my mysteries, my favorite comments are about how I kept them up all night reading, telling themselves, just one more chapter.
Knowing that I've helped others and gave them hope (the angel series) and knowing that I've entertained folks (the mystery series) and made them forget their problems, fills my world with warm bubbles.

What’s your biggest struggle as a writer (or what was your worst critique)? And how do/did you handle it?  
    
The worst critique I ever received was about my angel series. Someone wrote: How can Amazon label this book as nonfiction? Angels don't exist and strictly belong to the realm of science fiction. Hayden's stories about "true" incidents concerning angels are a pack of lies. Shame on her for lying to us and telling us these "miracles" actually occurred.

I ignored the "critique." I feel this is not a comment about my books but about religion. 
    
What is the high point of your career, so far? 

Having my novels nominated for the Agatha Award for Best Novel, for LCC's Best Novel and Best Characters made me feel that I am doing something right. 

I love doing presentations--and the attendees love them too! When I stand in front of an audience, I feel like a "real" writer.

What was the low point of your career? And how did you handle it? 

Receiving my royalty checks! Once, I got one for 2 cents! Yay, me!
How did I handle this? I cashed my checks

Give us the name of a recent book you’ve read that you would highly recommend to readers. 

The book I'm currently reading is super. Great characterization. If for nothing else, I'd recommend it for this. It's called Burning Man by Alan Russell.      


What's your favorite book on the writing craft or your favorite piece of advice to writers?

Never ever give up. Go for your dream!         

What’s next on your writing journey? 

Currently writing another children's picture book with a religious twist. My minister suggested the plot so I'm doing this more for him than anything else.
But I'm also writing my next Harry Bronson novel.   
        
Thank you so much for visiting with us today!! Loved having you and we appreciate the great insights!
     
To find L.C. online visit her at:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lc.hayden.3
website: http://lchayden.com/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/208872.L_C_Hayden

And buy her books at:

If you're an author and would like your thriller, mystery, romantic suspense, or suspense novel featured, please fill out the interview at:


AUTHOR INTERVIEW QUESTIONS