Author Interviews: Anna Payne

Author Anna Payne

I’m very pleased to bring Anna Payne, Christian Cozy Mystery author to the website today. Anna K Payne loves a mystery. Her favorite movies include one-liners and things that explode. Her relationship with her Savior is her number one priority and her family come second. Her passion and vision is to inspire hope, encourage others, love richly, and listen well through the strength of Jesus Christ. She seeks to inspire and encourage through her devotionals and cozy mysteries as well as aiding her family of writers publish their own books.

Anna, let’s get started!

1. Let’s start with something fun. What’s your favorite hobby?

I love my kids, my cats, and I love reading. I love keeping up with extended family throughout the world.

Because of my food allergies and a constant struggle with digestive issues I have developed a keen interest in a healthy diet, supplements, and essential oils.

2. If you had the opportunity—who would you like to spend an afternoon with and why?

So many bible characters come to mind, Jesus, the Father, but I think my grandfathers would be interesting. Both of my grandfathers have a sense of humor and they loved telling stories. And I enjoyed listening. If I could spend an afternoon with them and hear them speak of the glories of heaven, it would be fun. I’d like to joke with them and laugh with them again.

3. Coffee, tea, soda or something else?

I drink a glass of Masala tea every morning, then I can have decaf tea. But mostly I drink water with essential oils.

4. What are you working on right now?

I’m still in editing mode right now. I’m finishing my latest novella, Rose, Book 6 of Planted Flowers Christian cozy mystery series. I’m creating a bible study workbook to use with the series.

In the next few months, I will edit and reissue on of my grandmother’s book of family history, help my mom publish her first book on the fruit of the Spirit, and edit several books I’ve written in another series, Matthew’s Matchmakers. Before the end of the year I hope to work on a Santa Clarita valley time travel suspense novel.

5. How would you describe your writing style?

My writing style is a fast paced Christian suspense with surprising twists. I tell stories of faith, hopeless humanity, and how they discover hope.

6. Do you have any advice for a person just beginning their writing career?

Write down your ideas and start putting words on paper (or screen). Be bold, learn how to edit a book, and write what thrills you.

7. Do you immerse yourself in new situations for writing ideas or do your ideas come to you through your normal, day-to-day life?

Most of my ideas come from off-hand remarks people make. For some reason, I see a story behind most conversations. And I can hear the sinister overtones where everyone else sees a peaceful vista.

8. Where can we find you on the interwebs?

My main website is www.apayne.com and you can find the other sites from there. You can download free books at https://www.instafreebie.com/author/AnnaKPayne

Thank you so much Anna, for visiting with us today.

And gentle readers, check out Anna’s site, social media and free books. You’ll be glad you did.

 

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Author Interviews: Gail Kittleson

Welcome today to author Gail Kittleson. Gail writes Women’s Fiction and memoir, with a focus on the World War II era. She facilitates writing workshops and speaks on writing-related topics. She and her husband enjoy Rim Country during the winter.

And I love your line: Dare to Bloom. That’s a wonderful way to greet your readers. So, first question.

1. Let’s start with something fun. What’s your favorite hobby?

It’s a tie between hiking and reading. Hiking/walking frees my mind, and reading has always intrigued me.

 

2. Coffee, tea, soda or something else?

I’m a tea person, and Good Earth original Sweet and Spice is my favorite—I could own stock in the company.

 

3. What are you working on right now?

My work in progress. Right now, it’s called A Distant Goodness, and it’s the sequel to the second in my Women of the Heartland World War II series. Depending on the editor’s opinion of the title, it may change, since my second one did.

 

4. How would you describe your writing style?

My heroines and heroes juggle difficult questions and situations. I guess that’s obvious, since the stories are set in the midst of a nasty war. I do my best to remain faithful to historical facts, and really enjoy the intensive research required.

 

5. Do you have any advice for a person just beginning their writing career?

Keep in mind that writing carries no guarantees. It’s a calling (in my humble opinion), and sometimes seems to have a life of its own. If you’re a control freak, you’ll likely experience frustration. And if you’ve put off writing for a long time, never fear—with a little nurturing and a lot of courage, your gift can still blossom.

 

5. Do you immerse yourself in new situations for writing ideas or do your ideas come to you through your normal, day-to-day life?

The ideas come during regular everyday experiences, but once the main character gets firmly planted in my brain/heart, the research begins. That’s one way of immersing myself in new situations—I try to drop down into the historical era/setting as much as possible. Plotting is tougher than characterization for me, so the research helps the story unfold.

Documentaries and movies can sometimes be helpful, and in my dreams, I plan research trips to London and Southern France. (:

 

6. Where can we find you on the interwebs?

http://www.gailkittleson.com/

www.facebook.com/GailKittlesonAuthor

http://twitter.com/gailgkittleson

http://amazon.com/author/gailkittleson

Thank you so much, Gail, for joining us today. We all enjoyed it.

Readers, you can follow Gail on two social media sites, her website and her Amazon page to keep up with her releases. Check them out today.

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Author Interviews: Colleen Cross

colleen-author-pic

I’d like to welcome Colleen Cross to my blog today. Colleen Cross writes page-turning thrillers and fun, cozy mysteries. She lives with her family on the West Coast. When she’s not writing, she loves to run, hike, and explore with her rescue dog Jaeger, who reminds her daily that life’s too short to not follow your dreams–or a squirrel or two. Her books are international bestsellers and have been translated into multiple languages with more to come.

I’m sure we’ll have fun today. Let’s get started, shall we?

1. Let’s start with something fun. What’s your favorite hobby?

I like to run and hike with my dog, Jaeger. We have fun wearing each other out. 🙂

2. If you had the opportunity—who would you like to spend an afternoon with and why?

Agatha Christie. Aside from her talent as a mystery writer, she was extremely successful as a businesswoman in an era where women didn’t work. It would be fascinating to get her perspective on things.

3. Coffee, tea, soda or something else?

Strong coffee.

4. What are you working on right now?

witch-you-well-cover

I am writing books 3 and 4 of a humorous witch cozy mystery.

5. How would you describe your writing style? Do you have any advice for a person just beginning their writing career?

Read lots on the craft, join a critique group and write as much, and as regularly, as you can. Practice makes perfect. I would also advise someone just starting out to research their genre by studying bestsellers. You can write what you love, but you also want to be able to see it. There’s a way to do both if you study the market.

6. Do you immerse yourself in new situations for writing ideas or do your ideas come to you through your normal, day-to-day life?

I am never short of ideas. I probably have 3-4 ideas a day for different books. Plotting and writing it out is where the real work is for me.

7. Where can we find you on the interwebs?

You can find me here:

Website: http://colleencross.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/colleenxcross/

exit-strategy-cover

Thank you so much Colleen. Both of your series sound like a lot of fun. Dear readers, please visit her website at www.colleencross.com and sign up for her twice-yearly private newsletter to hear about new releases and exclusive subscriber-only offers. You can also connect with her on social media: Twitter: @colleenxcross or find her on Goodreads.

 

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Author Interview: James Stack

I want to give a warm welcome to James Stack, a non-fiction author. James lives in the lovely and gentle state of Vermont and his memoir, WORLD’S FAIR, and collection of poetry, PLEASURES & SEASONS OF VERMONT, were published in 2013. His blog, Postcards From Lebanon, about his experience with chemotherapy, appeared on The Huffington Post during 2013/2014. His poems have appeared in ENGLYN: Journal of Four Line Poetry, the Maine Review (Grand Prize winner), America Is Not the World (Pankhearst Anthology), and Ash & Bones, among others. His short stories have appeared in the Maine Review and Five2One Magazine and been semifinalists in the New Millennium Writings and Cutthroat contests.

We’re so glad to have you here, James.

1. Let’s start with something fun. What’s your favorite hobby?

This is an interesting question. It has caused me to think about what I do that could be considered a hobby since everything I do is fun. After all, the definition of a hobby is: “an activity done regularly in one’s leisure time for pleasure.” At my age, all the episodes of my life are considered leisure time, especially the time during which I write. As such, all that I now do could be considered a hobby. With that said, some things may reside in that niche more than others. I have to say that cooking – the planning, shopping and preparation – would have to be my favorite hobby.

2. If you had the opportunity—who would you like to spend an afternoon with and why?

There isn’t one person who would fit this bill. There are so many. It’s interesting as I think about it. I would have to insist on some requirements. The person would have to be willing to talk to me and be honest. I say this because as I thought about spending the afternoon with my father, he would have been silent and lied as he had in life. All questions would be allowed. There should be nothing off limits, as my mother would have told me, “There are some things you don’t ask in polite society.” There could be no judgmental replies by either party. This is important because time can be wasted on defending topics.

Then it came to me. A mythical bolt of lightening struck. I’d like to spend a sunny, warm, pleasant afternoon with my pre-teen self, after my parents divorced.

I’d love to tell that short, skinny, acne-faced, hormonal boy that not only does life gets better, but I’d want to be convincing since I know what I have in front of me. To encourage the once extrovert in myself that had been cowered to come out of his shell and live life to the fullest so long as we/I do no harm to anyone else. Begin reading everything you/I/we can get our hands on and don’t stop because it will help us be a more knowledgeable and better person/writer. This part of my/our time together should never come across as my preaching to myself, as I know my younger self would never have listened. It would have to be an intimate dialogue where I could share with the pre-teen I had become that there are so many glorious experiences that I/we will have and not to spend so much time worrying about what might have been or will be. Simply know that it will be glorious! I could then put my soul to rest.

3. Coffee, tea, soda or something else?

Tea is my drink of choice during the morning, followed by well water from lunch until dinnertime, during which wine becomes my drink of choice. After dinner it is more water before bed and through the night. My favorite tea is from India – Assam Bop – whose botanical name is Camellia Sinensis. I do not like coffee. In fact, the smell of a fresh pot of coffee makes me ill. I do like the odor of coffee beans, but not the brewed aroma. I used to drink more than my share of diet Pepsi. I will still drink it, but only when traveling or skiing. I allow myself to luxuriate in the treat of a diet Pepsi soda at only those times. I could easily fall off the non-soda wagon and partake once again, but I do fight the urge every day.

4. What are you working on right now?

Funny you should ask. My primary focus is a novel, tentatively entitled The Wycliffe Six. It is a New Adult, coming-of-age, mini mystery that has as its themes friendship, bigotry and betrayal. I’m also working on a series of short stories with my prior Vermont home, Popplewood Farm, as the common theme. I also have several flash fiction pieces in draft form. In reserve I have three collections of poetry hovering around the lower limbs of the maple trees. With that said, I’m hoping to soon begin querying agents about my novel.

5. How would you describe your writing style?

I’m actually glad you asked this question, as I believe it crosses several genres. As such, it is hard to classify. As for how I would describe it, my pen (actually a keyboard) flows from personal experiences. Those that are considered non-fiction are based upon the truth as I lived it. The ones that are fiction have elements of truth mixed in with sensational text to embellish and enhance what I might have experienced or read. I consider myself a realist with a twist. My memoir was from my memory; my novel is expanded realism; my poetry is highlighted life; while my short stories are capable of incorporating fantasy since they may be told from the perspective of a talking bird or ghost.

6. Do you have any advice for a person just beginning their writing career?

I have three pieces of advice for anyone beginning their writing career:

  1. Read everything on which you can get your hands. The classics are a good place to start. The books that received awards, like the Man Booker International Prize, PEN/Faulkner Award For Fiction, Pulitzer Prize, Nobel Prize in Literature Pushcart Prize and many more. Also incorporate books within your genre. For instance, if you are a romance novelist, you will want to read those that I don’t believe have won any of the awards I’ve mentioned.
  2. Write at least 500 words every day without editing (editing can be done later). In order to get started, think of them as flash fiction pieces, even if based on a fact of life. Many terrific short stories and novels have come from this exercise.
  3. Do not fear failure or being declined. This is what others call rejection. It’s part of the life of a writer (also being human). Put yourself out there, starting with having other writers/editors read your work. Look for honest feedback. Failure only makes us stronger and better writers.

7. Do you immerse yourself in new situations for writing ideas or do your ideas come to you through your normal, day-to-day life?

I have to say I do not actively look for writing ideas. My past and day-to-day living have provided so many experiences from which to draw stories. Some are invented and some are based on truth, yet embellished, while still others are drawn from the actual instances in which I breathed. I have traveled extensively, and I have yet to write any stories about the places I’ve visited. I don’t lack for ideas. My struggle is with turning those ideas into a viable story that someone might want to read. My life, to my way of thinking, is not boring; but when I tell a story about it, most times there needs to be a twist or kick to make it interesting to someone else. The truth of the matter is that life is often stranger than fiction.

8. Where can we find you on the interwebs?

I don’t yet have an author webpage, but the following are links to where you can find me or follow me.

http://www.siroliverofskygatefarm.com (blog)

https://www.facebook.com/JamesStackAuthor (facebook)

On twitter @SkygateStack

World’s Fair

Pleasures & Seasons of Vermont

Thank you so much, James for being on today’s interview with us. I know I appreciate getting some tips from a non-fiction author.

Readers, check out James’ social media. You’ll be glad you did.

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Author Interviews: Lyndsey Cole

I’d like to welcome author Lyndsey Cole to the blog today. Lyndsey Cole lives in New England in a small rural town with her husband who puts up with all the characters in her head, her dog who hogs the couch, her cat who is the boss, and 3 chickens that would like to move into the house. She surrounds herself with gardens full of beautiful perennials. Sitting among the flowers with the scent of lilac, peonies, lily of the valley, or whatever is in bloom, stimulates her imagination about who will die next!

1. Let’s start with something fun. What’s your favorite hobby?

I would have to say gardening, especially flower gardens. I spent thirty years growing cut flowers to sell to flower shops and there’s something about the scent, the colors, the variety, and the short life span that has me addicted to flowers!

2. If you had the opportunity—who would you like to spend an afternoon with and why?

I would love to meet Sue Grafton. I love her Kinsey Millhone character –a strong, smart female – and it would be fascinating to hear how she develops a story, where the initial idea comes from, her plotting method, where she pulls her characters from, and her writing discipline.

3. Coffee, tea, soda or something else?

That’s an easy choice—tea. I’ve never been a coffee drinker even though I love the smell of coffee and soda is just too sweet for my taste buds. My routine is a pot of black tea in the morning and a pot of either lemon ginger or peppermint in the afternoon.

 

4. What are you working on right now?

I’ve just completed book 9, Jingle Buried Cookies, in my Black Cat Café series and I’m working on an outline for book 5 in my Hooked & Cooked series.

 

5.  How would you describe your writing style?

Usually I just start right in once I have an idea for the first paragraph but with my latest project, I’m forcing myself to spend more time plotting with the hope that the writing will go quicker.

 

6. Do you have any advice for a person just beginning their writing career?

Write! Put one word after another and repeat until done! Sounds easy, doesn’t it, but if you don’t start, you will have nothing. One of the first things I remember reading is, you can fix crap but you can’t fix nothing, or something like that. You will get better the more you write.

 

7. Do you immerse yourself in new situations for writing ideas or do your ideas come to you through your normal, day-to-day life?

Both but probably more the normal, day-to-day stuff. My secret idea generator is my 90 year old mom who moved in with me a year ago. She loves giving me ideas and I’ve used several in my books!

 

8. Where can we find you on the interwebs?

http://lyndseycolebooks.com/ or https://www.facebook.com/LyndseyColeAuthor/

Thank you so much, Lyndsey for joining us today. We’ve enjoyed talking to you.

Readers, if you’d like to know more or follow Lyndsey in her writing journey, check out her website and facebook pages!

 

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Author Interviews: Meghan O’Flynn

Author Meghan O'Flynn

Author Meghan O’Flynn

Today we’re welcoming in the new year with Meghan O’Flynn. Meghan is a clinical therapist, writer, artist, wife, and mommy. She adores her amazing little boys, dark chocolate, tea, dirty jokes, and back rubs with no strings attached, in that order. She writes psychological suspense novels and is amazed that her husband still agrees to live with her after reading them.

I appreciate you taking the time to chat with us, Meghan, so let’s get started.

Hi, I’m Meghan. And I’m an author.

I’d describe my writing style as emotive with a side of snarky, heavy on the character development (I’m a shrink, it’s what we do). But I think what makes my work interesting overall is its unpredictability. It’s a virtue for a mystery writer, I presume, perhaps less so for an interview questionnaire, and yet, here we are, answering question number five instead of question number one like it’s the most natural thing in the world.

Maybe I have trouble thinking linearly. Maybe I’m a jerk. Jury’s still out.

Coffee, tea, soda or something else?

Tea. It goes better with vodka.

I kid, I kid, I never drink vodka, but I am a tea geek. I have about twenty-five different kinds of loose leaf tea: Bancha, Houjicha, Matcha, Yerba Mate, Pu Erh, Wu Yi Oolong (because screw the Makaibari estate). It’s an obsession. But it’s cheaper than shoes. Or cocaine.

Clearly my favorite hobby is telling jokes, as anyone on my newsletter knows (so if you’re into that, sign up at www.meghanoflynn.com or visit my book group, Meghan O’Flynn’s Partners in Crime). Riddles, knock-knocks, dirty limericks–all awesome. So I guess I’d spend my perfect afternoon with a clown. (But not one like the masked man in my third novel, Repressed. That bastard has issues.)

repressed-cover

Speaking of, Repressed hit the shelves back in December, but I’m following it up in just a few short months with Hidden, both installments in my Ash Park mystery series. And as I round out the Ash Park series this year, I’m working on a novel with a supernatural edge. Creepy. Chilling. Fun.

I sound insane, I know. After years of clinical therapy practice, I might be. And though I have enough stories in my brain to last a lifetime, I sometimes immerse myself in situations to get into a character’s head. When I was working on Famished, https://www.amazon.com/Famished-Park-Novel-Meghan-OFlynn-ebook/dp/B01EZ7HCEK, I wrote all the killer’s stalker scenes out on my back porch. By moonlight. It looks creepy as heck, but it keeps the neighbors away. Which gives me more time for jokes and tea.

As for my best advice for new writers: Don’t stop. You’ll have days where you wonder what you’re doing. Why you’re wasting your time. Nights when you want to throw your computer out the window at the neighbor’s cat for breaking your concentration (little fluffy punk). Keep going. Get an editor. Breathe. You’ll make it. And in the meantime, there’s always pretentious tea drinking and dirty limericks.

Thank you, Meghan. It was fun to mix around the questions. I’ve enjoyed talking to you.

Readers, you can find Meghan on her website at www.meghanoflynn.com or her Facebook group, Meghan O’Flynn’s Partners in Crime, https://www.facebook.com/groups/676239022514919/. Go ahead, visit her on either site.

 

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Happy New Year 2017: Monday Blog Post

Newest News:

Happy New Year! I hope that you, your family, and all of your friends have a wonderful and productive new year.

One of the things I do each year is set some writing goals. Usually I check in July to see how I’m doing but July was so busy this year, I never did get around to seeing how I was achieving the goals I set in January. Here’s the breakdown.

  1. Goal: Start an author interview post on my website for 2X per month.

I did that. I had two author interviews per month all year long. I plan on continuing this feature on my blog. See below for who’s coming up next, January 4th! Do you enjoy these? Is there an author you’d like to see on the feature? Let me know.

 

  1. Goal: Submit stories to newspapers/magazines about my appearances before and after each appearance.

I didn’t do so well on this goal. I would get busy and forget to send something to the paper for local appearances. However, I think I will keep this goal for 2017. Promotion is a big part of an indie author’s life and a good way to build a local following.

 

  1. Goal: Publish 6 books in 2016

I didn’t publish 6, but I did publish four: Kindred Spirits, Troubled Streets, and just under the wire, Mystery in the Woods. On the non-fiction side, I had 9 hiking articles in the Payson Roundup’s Trails book. Not too shabby. I don’t know if I can do another year with six books published but for 2017 I do want to put together a collection of my Science Fiction. I also have Mystery at the Book Festival to edit and publish. I also have a Brown Rain book drafted, called Tested. Which will also come out in 2017. I have a fun, novelette, Jania, Princess of Tania drafted. This is my take on a campy Space Opera. I may release that ebook only, I’m still thinking about that.

 

  1. Goal: Participate in the April and July Camp NaNo’s and in the November NaNo

I did participate in April and in November but because I run the book festival, there was just no way for me to get involved in the July Camp NaNo.

 

  1. Goal: Produce a Christmas Book this year.

I did not do a Christmas Book this year but some author friends and I were having a little fun brainstorming conversation in December and I came up with some ideas for a Christmas book. Some of them are doing the same. Not all of us liked all of the ideas so even if we all write a Christmas book out of the discussion, they’re going to be very different books. So that would bring my total 2017 published books to 5. Oh! I’m getting closer!

 

  1. Goal: Submit a story to the 2016 FM Anthology.

I did that. It’s a short story about a trip Kyra and Alyssa take just before they leave the Algonqwa tribe, just after Kindred Spirits. It’s called Vision Quest. No publishing date is available yet.

 

  1. Goal: Complete the Holly Lisle World Building class and the How to Write A Series Expanded class

This was not achievable. Holly came down with a life-threatening health condition and her site was totally under reconstruction. I just had a recent email though that she’s back at it, and putting the two classes back up on her renovated site. Yay! It’ll be on the 2017 goal list.

 

  1. Goal: Submit at least 20 stories to contests/magazines in 2016

I came close, 17 stories submitted to contests/magazines. I’ll keep this goal, too.

 

  1. Goal: Participate in May Story A Day

I did and created 12 stories. This goal stays as well.

 

  1. Goal: Increase speaking appearances and opportunities to sell my books to 12.

I didn’t achieve 12 but I did the following:

Appeared on an Indie Author panel at an Arizona Professional Writer meeting 1/21/16, April 16th I was at the Tempe Library Book Festival, June 3rd and 4th was the AZ Mystery Conference, June 30th I was on KRIM local radio as an author and to publicize the Book Festival. July 22nd was the Book Festival. On September 21st, I spoke at the Rim Country Chapter meeting on writing NaNo. In October I spent the 8th and 9th at the Pine, AZ, craft show selling and signing books. November 12th, I was with other local authors at the Romance Cottage here in Payson to chat with visitors to the rental’s open house. Total appearances: 9.

 

  1. Goal: Participate in the Payson Book Festival as an author.

Easy since I’m the organizer. We had a great festival in 2016, over 600 attendees and 95 authors. If you all are in Central Arizona on July 22, 2017, stop by the festival. All the details will be on my Where Will I Be tab.

 

I scheduled a Facebook Live for January 28th at 3pm, Arizona time. I had several people on the broadcast and I answered questions both live and afterward on the Facebook Live recording. That was fun! I’ll schedule another one for January.

 

Giveaways:

Rudolf’s Holiday Giveaway is now over. I’ll be notifying the winners of my prizes soon. Don’t miss out on the next one. It’s being called For the Love of Books, Valentines Giveaway. The link will be on http://conniesrandomthoughts.com/giveaways-and-prizes/. Click on the Rafflecopter link.

 

Shout Out:

This week I’d like to shout out to Megan O’Flynn. She writes mysteries with a supernatural edge. If you like your mysteries a little dark and creepy, you’ll want to check out her interview. Can’t wait? She can be found at: www.meghanoflynn.com.

 

Where Will I Be?

I already have a January appearance. The local Payson Library is doing a Book Blitz. Throughout the month of January, they’re inviting authors to do a reading and take audience questions. I’ll have books to sell there, too. See me at the Payson Library community room, January 11th at 9am. See you there!

 

Newsletter Sign Up:

Click here to sign up for my newsletter. I’ve put sign-up prizes on both the regular and the Brown Rain newsletter sign-ups. That’s right. If you sign up for my newsletter you get a free story from me. Be prepared for fun and contests! Click on the video link for a short video from me. Hear what I’m working on. Join my “A” Team to be the first to read my books and hear what new books are coming.

 

Newest Book Release:

Mystery in the Woods released on January 24th! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy it and my other books at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords, today! You can also see all my books on http://conniesrandomthoughts.com/my-books-and-other-published-work/. If you’ve read any of my books, please drop a short, honest, review on the site where you bought it or on Goodreads. It’s critical to help me promote the books to other readers. Thanks in advance.

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Author Interviews: Maggie West

Author Maggie West

Author Maggie West

We have with us today the wonderful author, Maggie West. Maggie is a woman after my own heart writing several series in different genres. West is the author of the Antique Pickers in Paradise cozy mystery series and the Lily Thistle cozy mystery series, the Doorways to the Past time travel series, and several romance books. When she’s not reading or writing, she loves to craft and sew, keep her kitten out of trouble (oh boy, good luck with that!), and take walks where she dreams up new stories.

I certainly appreciate your time, Maggie. Let’s get started!

1. Let’s start with something fun. What’s your favorite hobby?

I love looking for treasures at yard sales, thrift stores, and estate sales. I particularly love to find vintage items, like linens, kitchenware, and just anything that strikes my fancy.

2. If you had the opportunity—who would you like to spend an afternoon with and why?

I’d love to spend 10 minutes with Martin Short. A whole afternoon? Yeah! He’s a hoot and a half! I know it would be a fun afternoon since I’d spend it laughing.

3. Coffee, tea, soda or something else?

Coffee. Definitely coffee. I sometimes drink warm herbal tea on cold nights. I gave up soda several years ago and now the stuff tastes awful to me!

picked-to-death-cover

4. What are you working on right now?

The third book in my antique pickers cozy mystery series. It’s tentatively called Picked On.

5. How would you describe your writing style?

Straightforward with a touch of humor.

6. Do you have any advice for a person just beginning their writing career?

Keep writing. Like with anything else, the more you practice, the better you get.

7. Do you immerse yourself in new situations for writing ideas or do your ideas come to you through your normal, day-to-day life?

I get lots of good ideas from watching people and listening in on conversations. So in a sense I find new ideas by being out and about, but I don’t purposely seek out experiences so I can write about them. They seem to come about from my own experiences and being observant.

8. Where can we find you on the interwebs?

My website is MaggieWestBooks.com, and I can be found on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MaggieWestAuthor.

Well I certainly appreciate finding new cozy mystery and time travel stories. Thank you so much, Maggie.

Readers, I hope you take the time to visit Maggie’s lovely pages and give her a lot of support. Thank you so much for being with us today.

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Author Interviews: J.B. Hawker

 

Author J.B. Hawker

Author J.B. Hawker

I’m very pleased to bring to you today Author J.B. Hawker. J.B. is a fellow cozy mystery author, currently living in the wilds of Northern California. J.B. is a woman of a certain age with a lot of living behind her, who looks forward to all the great adventures ahead.

J.B. mines the richness of her history as a pastor’s wife in small communities all over the Western United States to people her not-quite-cozy mystery/thrillers. (If you’ve ever attended a small town church, you may even recognize some of the characters.)

Writing from a Christian perspective, her stories include men and women at all stages in their faith walk, along with some truly scary villains.

I’m ready to get to know, J.B., aren’t you? Let’s get to it.

1. Let’s start with something fun. What’s your favorite hobby? 

Gardening. I love to dig in the dirt and then enjoy the fruits (and veg and flowers!) of my labors. There is something so elemental about growing things. It is the perfect antidote for a high-tech lifestyle.

2. If you had the opportunity—who would you like to spend an afternoon with and why?

This is easy: my three granddaughters, ages 15, 6 and 5. They live in northern Italy, so I don’t see them in person often enough. Skype just isn’t the same.

3. Coffee, tea, soda or something else?

Strong black tea with milk in the morning gets my engine started, then I take a cup of latte to my desk to begin writing. I almost never drink soda, but I like minty lemonade on a hot summer day.

4. What are you working on right now?

I’m unwisely juggling three projects: a non-fiction resource for women’s ministry leaders, a collection of Christmas-themed short-stories, and the first book of my new Mrs. Thistlethwaite series, Mrs. Thistlethwaite and the Magpie, coming out in 2017.

5. How would you describe your writing style?

I write from my own heart and experience. I try to create authentic characters I would like to spend time with. I try not to take myself too seriously, so there are bits of gentle humor in all my stories. I can be a bit dark, on occasion, but only when the story calls for it. I do write mysteries, after all, and that means bad guys.

6. Do you have any advice for a person just beginning their writing career?

Fear not. That’s the first thing. It’s both easier and harder than you think, but don’t let the enormity of the task paralyze you. Learn as much as you can about your craft, then just write, proof, edit and rewrite, but don’t wait for perfection before publishing or you’ll never think your work is ready for prime time.

7. Do you immerse yourself in new situations for writing ideas or do your ideas come to you through your normal, day-to-day life? 

I’ve been around the block quite a few times, so I’ve got enough stored experiences for a library of books. Occasionally, it will be a new adventure, like a trip to Italy, say, which sparks the writing ideas, but most often it is simple, day-to-day events which recall past experiences to mind.  I frequently write about pastors, their wives, and church life because I was a pastor’s wife for twenty-five years. I’ve lived all over, so those locations also find their way into my writing.

8. Where can we find you on the interwebs?

Website: http://jbhawker.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JBHawker.author/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/HawkerJB

Blogs: Power Walking with Jonna (Inspirational): https://jonnaturek.wordpress.com/

Author Blog: http://jbhawker.com/category/author-blog/

And special news. 

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I just released a collection of cozy short stories for Christmas (along with recipes). I’m attaching the cover and this is the link. It’s only 99 cents through Christmas Eve. Here’s the link

Thank you so much J.B. for taking the time to be with us today.

Fellow readers, I invite you to visit J.B. on any of her pages. I’m sure there’s a cozy mystery just waiting for you there. And what a bargain on her new Christmas book! Get that today while it’s on sale.

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Holiday Season Madness: Monday Blog Post

Homemade Truffles

Homemade Truffles

Newest News:

It’s December. That means baking and candy making. I do it every year because for the longest time there was no candy for celiacs. If I wanted Christmas chocolates, I had to make them myself. This year I found out that Reeses has gluten free peanut butter cups. That’s one item I no longer need to make. I still make truffles and peppermint patties. And in addition to my usual Russian Teacakes, I replaced the peanut butter cups with a cranberry bar cookie. I had hoped to have all the baking done by Sunday but that didn’t happen. So, today, Monday, I’ll be dipping the truffles and they’re the last thing to be done. Then it’s box everything up and send it to various family members. Hopefully done by Friday so I don’t miss the mailing window. How about you? Do you mail things across country? Are you done or are you, like me, still scrambling.

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We had some outdoor lighting issues this year. Timers have died or become terribly sensitive. I don’t have any interior decorating done since I spent the weekend on cookies and candy. This week though, it’ll all be done. I’ve also accepted some party invitations for the month. So, now there’s finger food to consider. On Saturday evening we went to the Electric Light Parade our town holds every year. It’s always fun to watch the little kids along the street. They’re so pleased with the Christmas music and the lights. And the parade isn’t shabby either. Every year it seems to get better and better.

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Mystery in the Woods has made it to the editor. We’re trying very hard to get it out before the end of the month. I’ve been brainstorming ways to promote the release. One way is to contact my A Team people, and have them let me know if they’d like an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of Mystery in the Woods to read and review. There are several other ideas on my list. We’ll see if I can make them work for me. You’re not on my A Team? Let me know you want to be. I’ll set it up.

I’ve mentioned it before but since it is gift-giving season, check out my store www.conniesrandomthoughts where you can get very nice coffee mugs with my book covers on them. A handy, useful give and a collectible at the same time! Very reasonably priced.

Giveaways:

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Rudolf’s Holiday Giveaway is in full swing. This time, there is a $120 grand prize, lots of author prizes, what’s not to like? And you get the opportunity to find new to you authors. You’ll see my posts on my Facebook, and Twitter pages as well as in these posts and my newsletter. Don’t miss out this time. http://conniesrandomthoughts.com/giveaways-and-prizes/. Click on the Rafflecopter link.

On Sunday I spent 2 hours hosting the Writers Colony Press Holiday Indie Extravaganza. Writers Colony Press publishes anthologies for charity. The Longest Night Watch Volumes 1 and 2 are to raise money for Alzheimers. We dedicated them to Terry Pratchett and Gene Wilder. The other Anthology out is “Stardust Alway’s” for Cancer research, and dedicated to Alan Rickman and David Bowie. I had a great time. In addition to the event contests and contests the other authors held, I held my own. The prizes have been awarded and I had people buy my books and were interested in my website and a couple of the sites I frequent as an author. All in all a good day.

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December 17th, is the Brain to Books Holiday Giveaway and CyCon Sampler. Every year Brain to Books hosts a Holiday Book Giveaway. This year, our giveaway is a CyCon Sampler. Get a sneak preview of the Brain to Books Cyber Convention to be held in April. While you’re here, we have a $100.00 Amazon gift card to hand out to someone along with a list of books we’re giving away! Here’s what’s happening.

1 – Browse the Author Takeover displaying sales, giveaways, games, prizes, etc.

2 – $100.00 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

3 – Holiday Book Giveaway

4 – Blog Hop (YA, Science Fiction, and Romance)

5 – Vote in Character Tournaments

It should be a lot of fun and who couldn’t use a $100 Amazon Gift Card?

You’ll find us at: https://www.facebook.com/events/624679124381085/

I’ve signed up to host the 5pm Eastern (3pm Arizona) time slot on December 17th. Want to have some fun, play a couple of games? Click on the link and join in the fun.

Shout Out:

Author J.B. Hawker

Author J.B. Hawker

J.B. Hawker is my featured author this week on my Author Interviews. J.B is currently living in the wilds of Northern California, J.B. is a woman of a certain age with a lot of living behind her, who looks forward to all the great adventures ahead.

J.B. mines the richness of her history as a pastor’s wife in small communities all over the Western United States to people her not-quite-cozy mystery/thrillers. (If you’ve ever attended a small-town church, you may even recognize some of the characters.)

Writing from a Christian perspective, her stories include men and women at all stages in their faith walk, along with some truly scary villains.

Can’t wait? You can find her at: http://jbhawker.com/

Where Will I Be?

Do you follow me on Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or other sites? You can find all my links here. I’m also on a new social media site, Imzy.com. You can follow me there at https://www.imzy.com/connies_random_thoughts. This is a troll free site and free to join. Enjoy.

Newsletter Sign Up:

Click here to sign up for my newsletter. I’ve put sign-up prizes on both the regular and the Brown Rain newsletter sign-ups. That’s right. If you sign up for my newsletter you get a free story from me. Be prepared for fun and contests! Click on the video link for a short video from me. Hear what I’m working on. Join my “A” Team to be the first to read my books and hear what new books are coming.

Newest Book Release:

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Troubled Streets released on October 15th! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy it and my other books at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords, today! You can also see all my books on http://conniesrandomthoughts.com/my-books-and-other-published-work/. If you’ve read any of my books, please drop a short, honest, review on the site where you bought it or on Goodreads. It’s critical to help me promote the books to other readers. Thanks in advance.

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