Saturday, May 29, 2010

Doing The Happy Dance!

Got a phone call yesterday that made me very, very happy regarding my novel, which has been retitled, The Paris Secret! The novel that has been on submission to various publishers since early last year that I feared would never sell. I'll give more details later. But check out the video below for a big hint!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Today I'm welcoming author and bookseller Kris Neri to my blog!

Kris Neri’s latest title is REVENGE FOR OLD TIMES’ SAKE, the third book in her Agatha, Anthony, Macavity Award-nominated Tracy Eaton mystery series, featuring mystery writer, detective wannabe and the offspring of eccentric Hollywood stars, Tracy Eaton. Also recently published was the first book in a new paranormal mystery series, HIGH CRIMES ON THE MAGICAL PLANE, a Lefty Award nominee for Best Humorous Mystery, featuring fake psychic Samantha Brennan and genuine Celtic goddess/FBI agent Annabelle Haggerty. Kris has also published NEVER SAY DIE, a standalone thriller, and A ROSE IN THE SNOW, a short story collection. She has published some sixty short stories, and is a two-time Derringer Award winner and a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee for her short fiction. Kris teaches writing online for the Writers’ Program of the UCLA Extension School. Two of her former students have also produced a mystery writing DVD with her, WRITING KILLER MYSTERIES WITH KRIS NERI, which is based on her UCLA course. And with her husband, she owns The Well Red Coyote bookstore in Sedona, Arizona.

Welcome, Kris! Tell us a little about yourself.

I have a wildly busy, totally book-related life. I'm a published, award-winning mystery writer, as well as the owner of a general-interest bookstore, The Well Red Coyote in Sedona, Arizona. I also teach writing for the Writers' Program of the UCLA Extension School, and I also do freelance editing for writers and for an independent press. At one time I was quite a prolific short story writer -- I've published more than sixty, and I'm a two-time Derringer Award winner and a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee for my short fiction. But these days I simply don't have enough time to write that many. I limit my short story publications now to the occasional anthology. My husband, Joe, and I live in Northern Arizona with our pets, our Maine Coon cat Philly, and our Cocker Spaniel Annabelle, both of whom have been named for characters in my books. In the little downtime I have, I love hiking in Sedona's magnificent red rock trails.

You’re the author of two mystery series and a standalone novel. What are the challenges and rewards of writing a series versus a standalone novel?

There's nothing like writing a series. You get to develop your characters so much deeper than any one novel would allow. You put them in so many different situations, it's like actually creating a full life for them. Over time, you build such an instinctive connection to your characters in an on-going series that you don't need to think about what they'd do, because it becomes second nature to you. I love writing series. But I also enjoy variety and a change of pace. It's exciting to get to know new characters, and while it's challenging to put everything you want readers to know in a standalone novel, it's also an intense experience, and gratifying to know you've nailed it.

What appeals to you about writing mysteries?

For me, it's the element of justice. In real life bad things happen to good people, and if that cliche is true, that "what goes around come around," it often comes around too slowly for us to draw any satisfaction from it. But in mysteries, no matter how much chaos enters into our fictional worlds, some level of order is always restored and justice is served at the end, and often in the most poetic way. I think reading about fictional justice helps us to live with the wrongs in our own lives.

Do you write in any other genre and if not, would you like to?

One of my series is an urban fantasy, which is basically a mixture of mystery and fantasy, and often romance. So, in a way, I write in all of those genres. At some point, I'd like to try general fiction, too.

What is your writing schedule like?

I typically write in the mornings and the evenings, and I work in my bookstore in the afternoons.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I'm somewhere in between. I always work out the backstory between the villain and the victim, so I understand the roots of the crime. I also know how a book will end, and some of the high points in between, but there's a lot that comes to me along the way. I could never write a complete outline. It would feel as if I'd already written the book, and I know I'd lose the sense of excitement that I experience now.

Can you tell us what you're working on now?

I'm writing books in both of my series. MAGICAL ALIENATION will be the next episode in my urban fantasy series, featuring fake psychic, Samantha Brennan, and Celtic goddess/FBI agent, Annabelle Haggerty. It will deal with domestic terrorism, but with a magical bent. I'm also writing the next book in my Tracy Eaton mystery series, featuring a detective wannabe and the offspring of eccentric Hollywood stars, REVENGE ON ROUTE 66, which will visit various real and made-up places along Route 66. It will be a madcap road romp, with a murder, of course.

Do you have a website or blog?

I have both! My website is: I blog with the Femmes Fatales -- Donna Andrews, Dana Andrews, Charlaine Harris, Toni L.P. Kelner, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Mary Saums and Elaine Viets -- at: We have a pretty engaging blog, with some lively discussion.

What good books have you read recently that you'd like to recommend?

The best mystery I've read lately was THE FATE OF KATHERINE CARR by Thomas H. Cook. I loved that so much, I'm now reading an ARC for Cook's next book, THE LAST TALK WITH LOLA FAYE. I just finished THE 19TH WIFE by David Ebershoff, which is general fiction, although it does contain a mystery; it takes both a contemporary and historical look at polygamy, which I find fascinating, though abhorant. I'm also reading a memoir by Azir Nafisi, THINGS I'VE BEEN SILENT ABOUT. I'm a bookseller -- I read everything.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

The publishing business has never been more challenging than it is today. Writers today really need to learn their craft, and to make their books as good as they can be before submitting them, because you don't get much time/pages today to attract the attention of decision-makers. Writers should read everything they can, in every genre, because reading will teach you so much about good writing, and you simply absorb it unconsciously. You also need a support system of other writers because nobody else knows how tough it can be.

Thanks for stopping by, Kris!
Click here to check out Kris's books!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Interview: Patricia Sargeant

It is with great pleasure that I welcome author, and fellow Crime Sistah, Patricia Sargeant to my blog today! Plus, anyone who comments is eligible to win a copy of Patricia's novel, Sweet Deception!

Tell us a little about yourself.

Angela, thank you so much for inviting me to your blog. I appreciate this opportunity.

OK, a bit about myself. I write romantic suspense and contemporary romance. I'm from Brooklyn, New York, but my husband and I now live in Ohio. My hobbies include reading - fiction and nonfiction - jogging, hiking, movies and pastries. Not baking them; eating them.

Describe Steve Crennell and Valerie Parker, the hero and heroine of Heated Rivalry, and how you came to create them.

Ah, neat question. Steven is a former NBA star and future Hall of Famer. He's the junior partner of the heroine's father's advertising firm. On the outside, he's confident. On the inside, he's a people pleasure because he wants people to like him.

Valerie is an award-winning art director with her father's advertising firm. In her mind, a promotion to account executive would prove her emotionally distant father loves her. On the inside - and on the outside - she has low self-esteem.

I gave Steven and Valerie characteristics to support Heated Rivalry's theme, which is self-worth. The story's question is do you determine your value or do you allow others to measure your worth? Valerie's character journey leads her to realize her own worth and to stop her futile campaign for her father's approval. Steven's character journey leads him to realize he has to do what he believes is right and not act just to please others.

What appeals to you about writing romance?

The character motivation. Characters are the story. To keep readers in your story, they have to connect with your character's motivation. I don't believe there is any greater motivation than love - familial love, romantic love, patriotic love. When your character is willing to risk everything for love, your readers will root for your characters and will stay in your story to the end. And, with romances, the endings are always happy ones.

How much research is involved in your writing?

I do as much research as I need to feel comfortable writing my story. Even though we write fiction, our stories must be grounded in fact to keep readers in our story. My first drafts usually have holes that need to be filled and/or corrected before I submit my manuscript to my editor.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I'm most definitely a plotter. I need a plan. I admire people who say, "I need to discover the story with my characters." I get nervous if I don't have some idea of where I'm going. Granted, there have been many, many occasions in which my characters took a sharp turn in an unexpected direction, but I can work with that. I can't work with a completely blank canvas.

What is your writing schedule like?

Oh, tragedy! My writing schedule starts out very disciplined. Three pages a day Monday through Friday fits in comfortably with my day job. Five pages a day each Saturday and Sunday. Somewhere along the way, my schedule always get derailed and I end up in Panic Mode, writing and revising every spare minute until my deadline. Sleep is pretty much suspended until I turn in my manuscript. Oh, I should add "sleeping" to my list of hobbies. I love to sleep.

Can you tell us what you're working on now?

I would love to. Thank you for asking. I'm working on the first book of a contemporary romance trilogy featuring an NBA team based in Brooklyn, New York. I'm very exicted about this project. I'm taking on a pseudonym for my contemporaries, Regina Hart.

In the meantime, I'm working on a romantic suspense proposal that I hope will put Patricia Sargeant back on the shelf.

Do you have a website or blog?

I don't maintain a regular blog any longer. Sadly, I don't have the time management skills. My Web site is

What good books have you read recently that you'd like to recommend?

I don't usually read fiction while I'm on deadline. Before I started writing my current work in progress, I read Beverly Jenkins's Captured. It's an African American historical romance that takes place during the American Revolution. It was fantastic! Right now I'm reading Who Wrote the Bible? It's nonfiction, of course. Very interesting. However, I can only read a few pages at a time. The deadline is creeping up on me. I don't write that fast and the revisions are murderous. LOL!

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

May I provide more than one?

Go for it!

First, never stop studying the craft of writing. Never become "confident" in your abilities. If you give in to that confidence, you'll become stale.

Second, learn the business. Learn about contracts, distribution rights, the imprints and lines within publishing companies. Learn about promotion and what booksellers need and need to know to help market your books. Sadly, writing a really good book isn't enough anymore. You need to know the industry and understand the business of writing to make your career last.

Third - and final point - love what you write. If you try to write to market trends just to try to "sell," you'll do yourself more harm than good if you don't enjoy what you write.

Thank you for stopping by, Patricia!

Angela, thank you again for inviting me over. I've enjoyed chatting with you. I look forward to chatting with your friends, too, and sending a commenter a copy of Sweet Deception.

Click here for more info on Patricia's books. And don't forget to comment for your chance to win Sweet Deception!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Interview: Jenny Gardiner

Today I'm happy to welcome author Jenny Gardiner to my blog! Welcome, Jenny!

Tell us a little about yourself.

I've been writing books for oh, maybe 4 or 5 years--my first novel, Sleeping with Ward Cleaver, won the American Title III contest a few of years back. I have a memoir, Winging It: A Memoir of Caring for a Vengeful Parrot Who's Determined to Kill Me (sort of David Sedaris meets Marley & Me, with a deadly beak) that came out in March, and of course Slim to None, just out last week digitally. I live in Virginia with a lot of housepets and my family!

Describe Abbie Jennings, the heroine of Slim to None, and how you came to create her.

Abbie has SUCH a good heart. And she just LOVES food. And she means well, she really does. She gets lost in her world awfully easily, and she finds comfort in food, to a fault. Abbie evolved from a few books I'd written, then changed, then mixed up a bit, then tried to take it higher concept. I'd talked a bit with an agent friend who loved what I was writing but thought it needed to be higher concept. So we brainstormed a bit about taking this woman fixated on food and making something happen that would mean she'd have a sort of do-or-die gauntlet thrown down so that she couldn't eat, and voila, this is what we came up with. Also with Abbie I was mindful that some folks thought my protagonist in Sleeping with Ward Cleaver was a bit unsympathetic, so I set out to make Abbie very lovable (though not in a treacly way!).

What have been the differences and or challenges in promoting an ebook versus a print book?

It's not so easy getting mainstream reviews. But then again, it's not so easy getting mainstream reviews anyway. Also you don't have hard copies to send out for review or for giveaways. The other thing is that it's still early as far as who has an e-reader, so it's hard when friends and readers I know of can't read it because they don't have an e-reader. Though after the Kindle exclusive is up in July they can do the publish on demand option through Ingrams.

For me book promotion is book promotion, to some extent. But it is really about finding those readers who *can* read it, and hope that maybe some who were sitting on the fence will take the plunge (and then they'll love the book enough that they won't be mad they spent the money on an e-reader LOL).

What advantages do you think digital publishers have to offer authors?

I think the biggest thing is it gives authors some control back. There are very few authors out there who would tell you they feel as if they're in the driver's seat. Just about everything is out of our control, shy of whatever attempts we can muster to get the word out to market/publicize the book. Well, and of course writing it.

One thing I have ALWAYS hated hearing industry professionals and ultra successful authors say--you always hear this at conferences--is "Write a good book." Well, duh. Do you think writers are out ther deliberately writing bad books? I'd like to think we are doing our damnedest, for the most part, but of course there are variables over which we have no control: for instance, finding the editor who connects with your writing and with your story. More and more these days even if that happens, it's extra hard for it to go up the chain of command and have enough people sign on to it for an acquisition to happen, especially in women's fiction. Many authors are frustrated with this. So if one has the ability to market/publicize a lot, and of course a platform or prior books in the marketplace would help, then it seems like a pretty obvious choice to at least try. Because the reality of it nowadays is whether your book is in print or in e-format, you're going to have to do most of that marketing/PR anyhow.

What is your writing schedule like?

If only there was a schedule to it...I write when I can, really. I prefer to write in the morning after the kids go to school--when I'm freshest is when I'm most creative. But I'll grab time whenever/wherever I can (and that has been in the past at pick-up line at school, at soccer practice, at halftime of soccer games, you name it, if I have to be idle for more than 20 minutes or so, I'll often whip out my laptop and try to get some words down).

It's hard, though, because marketing and publicity take up a LOT of time, but it's the nature of the beast nowadays, so it's gotta be worked into it. Suffice it to say my house does not get cleaned as it should LOL

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

TOTALLY a pantser. I love to just sit down and see what happens. I mean I'll have a vague idea of start-to-finish but I noodle on things all the time and my books are evolving as I write them.

Can you tell us what you're working on now?

Oooh, I get superstitious about talking about things I'm working on...

Do you have a website or blog?



facebook fan page:


What good books have you read recently that you'd like to recommend?

I loved Ad Hudler's Househusband, Loved Jamie Fords Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Loved Beth Hoffman's Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, love Sarah Pekkanen's Opposite of Me. I'm sure there are others but those are recent ones that stick in my head!

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Believe in yourself! It's a tough business, getting tougher by the day. It is fraught with rejection. But if you are determined and you are a good writer, then hang in there and tough it out. Try not to be demoralized (at least not too often!), and also learn everything you can about the business. Join writing groups online and nearby. Network, meet other writers. And read a LOT. I think the more you read the better a writer you become, or at least you will learn what type of writer you are. My friend and I always remind each other: The last writer standing gets the publishing contract!

Thanks for stopping by, Jenny!

Thanks for having me!!

Click here to check out Slim to None!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Interview: Lauren Baratz-Logsted

It's my pleasure to welcome author Lauren Baratz-Logsted to my blog today! Lauren writes adult, children's and YA novels and has 4, count 'em, 4 books being released this year!

Welcome Lauren!

Tell us a little about yourself.

I've been writing seriously since 1994, published since 2003. By the end of this year I will have had 19 books published. I love what I do. I also love spending time with my daughter, shooting pool, and General Hospital.

You have four books being released this year. Can you give us a brief description of each one?

The Sisters 8 Book 5: Marcia's Madness (May 3) and The Sisters 8 Book 6: Petal's Problems (Oct 4) are the fifth and sixth books in the projected nine-book series for young readers I created with my novelist husband Greg Logsted and our 10-year-old daughter Jackie. It's about octuplets whose parents go missing and readers can learn more about it at

The Education of Bet (July 12) is a YA novel set in Victorian England about a 16-year-old girl who impersonates a boy in order to get a proper education.

The Twin's Daughter (Aug 31) is a YA novel set in Victorian England about a teen who discovers that her gorgeous society mother has an identical twin who was raised in the poorhouse.

What appeals to you about writing for children and young adults and how is it different than writing for adults?

I love it all. Generally speaking, YA books are shorter than adult books and children's books are even shorter. As a rule, the shorter the word count and the younger the audience, the tighter the writing needs to be because attention spans are also shorter and kids today have more distractions than any previous generation. Also, when writing for teens and younger children, there's also a greater responsibility in terms of being careful about what one says - not to sugarcoat things, but rather so that you don't send the wrong messages.

How much research is involved in your writing?

It depends on the book. Some books require zero research - just whatever crazy ideas enter my crazy head! Others require more, particularly for books set in earlier time periods. For The Education of Bet, I re-read Tom Brown's Schooldays and looked into how a teenage boy at that time might enter the military without his family knowing. For The Twin's Daughter, I researched where a young man might be sent to fight and what sort of circumstances he might find there. Also, because the heroine is a big reader, I researched what sorts of things she might be reading in the latter part of the 1800s.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Why confine myself to just one method? I'm both!

What is your writing schedule like?

If I'm working on a novel, I start as soon as I see my daughter off to school at seven a.m. and then work pretty much straight through until three p.m. when I break for General Hospital. If I haven't met my goal for the day or if the writing is good, I may go back to it later in the day or evening.

Can you tell us what you're working on now?

I recently completed two books: The Middle March, a YA novel already under contract and due out I believe next year, about a contemporary teen who finds herself literally sucked into Little Women, becoming the fifth March sister; and The Bro-Magnet, a comedic adult novel not under contract and that I just delivered to my agent, about a man's man whose secret wish is to find the right woman.

Do you have a website or blog?

I do! My website is I'm in rotation as one of a large group of bloggers who take turns at Teen Fiction Cafe: I also write the Writer-in-Residence column at BiblioBuffet:

What good books have you read recently that you'd like to recommend?

The book I most recently loved is the adult novel Happy Now? by Katherine Shonk. On the surface, it doesn't sound like the kind of book to inspire love - it's about a woman whose husband has committed suicide - but the writing is simply amazing.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

An easy question! I always advise the same two things: 1) read, read, read - read widely and read everything you can get your hands on because you can't be a good writer without first being a good reader; and 2) always remember, the only person who can ever really take you out of the game is you.

Thanks for stopping by, Lauren! Click here to check out all of Lauren's books!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Interview: Jackie Fullerton

Today I'm thrilled to welcome author and attorney, Jackie Fullerton! Jackie is the author of the Anne Marshall mystery series and her latest book is entitled Revenge Served Cold!

Kathy Spence awakens in the middle of the night and finds herself in a living nightmare. Her husband has been run down and she is the primary suspect. With an eyewitness to the crime and proof that her car was the murder weapon, it appears to be an open and shut case. Terrified for her future, Kathy turns to amateur sleuth Anne Marshall for help. Believing in Kathy's innocence, Anne launches her own investigation, uncovering proof of a conspiracy that reaches from Kathy s past and threatens her own life. In a race against time, Anne must count on her close friends and even the ghost of her father to help her bring a killer to justice before it's too late

Welcome Jackie ; ).

Tell us a little about yourself.

My husband, Tom and I have five children and eight grandchildren, most of whom are scattered across the United States. At this point in our lives, we are able to split our time between Westerville, Ohio and Ft. Myers, Florida. Professionally, I am an attorney and a businesswoman, but my first love is writing. Even as a child, I was writing stories involving a gang of mischievous woodland creatures.

What appeals to you about writing mysteries?

I love challenges. Mysteries appeal to me because they are like puzzles. The challenge is identifying all the important pieces and putting them together to reveal the picture. Being able to create that picture and then hide the pieces is great fun.

Describe your sleuth, Anne Marshall, and how you came to create her.

Anne Marshall is a confident woman in her thirties who thinks she finally knows what she wants in life. It's not so much that I created her as she just sprang into being. I literally woke up one morning and there she was. I immediately went to the computer and started to write.

How much research is involved in writing your series?

More than I realized. Since I went to law school at night and am now a practicing attorney, those parts were easy. I called upon my own experiences. Everything else requires research. When I was setting up the offshore accounts in my first book Piercing the Veil, I had to investigate the banking laws in several countries. To this day my husband is still suspicious.

Do you write in any other genre besides mystery?

Not at this point. I love mysteries and have not exhausted the murders I have in store for Anne. When I finish that series, I would like to write in the occult.

What is your writing schedule like?

I follow the discipline that you write at least one hour every day. I usually read the paper, work the crossword puzzle, check my emails and then start writing. Some days I write only one hour and some days I write several hours. It depends. If I am in a part of the story that requires a lot of dialogue, it's harder for me.

Can you tell us what you're working on now?

The book I am working on now takes place in Florida. Anne and Jason are visiting his parents over Thanksgiving and, of course, there is a murder. It turns out this latest murder is only one of several. The first murderer happened back in Brecksville, so Maria and her other study group friends become involved before more bodies start to appear.

Do you have a website or blog?

I have a website in process, I am just starting to blog and love it. I am doing some blogs for other sites, but will eventually incorporate them into my website. Folks can contact me at until the website is completely operational.

What good books have you read recently that you'd like to recommend?

Of course I love Janet Evanovich, but some folks have recommended other authors to me that I have really enjoyed. The Miss Julia series by Ann B. Ross is delightful. I know they're not mysteries, but sometimes you have to take a break. For mysteries I have recently read and enjoyed mysteries by Diane Mott Davidson, Charlaine Harris, and Rosemary Harris.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Just start writing. I can't stress that enough. Sit down and write one hour a day. Don't worry about the opening sentence. You can come back to it.

For a mystery, think of a murder and then who would do it and why. Use your imagination. Once you have that, who would solve it? Are you going to write what publishers call "Cozies?" (A book you can cozy up with in a chair in front of a fire - an Agatha Christie type.) If you are, that involves an amateur sleuth with lots of friends to help. What amateur sleuth can you create? Someone at the office? Someone in your neighborhood? You can't accomplish anything unless you start. "Just do it."

Thanks for stopping by Jackie! And for those of you wanting a copy of Revenge Served Cold, click here.