Meet author Ian Wingrove

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Ian began writing a few years ago and self-published his debut novel, Dead Pool in 2015. The mystery, thriller series is set in a dystopian England in the near future and features private detective Tom Barlow.

The second in the series, Feel.it, came out in March and Ian is looking forward to the prospect of editing and publishing the next two novels in the series.

Born in London, he currently resides in Norwich and enjoys life with an extensive family.

Let’s get to know Ian. 

What’s the first book that made you cry?

 I didn’t learn to read until I was nine, but by age eleven, I was onto Lord of the Rings. It was the moment I realised I was a sucker for tragic romance; when the immortal, Elrond, tells his daughter Arwen about the terrible fate that awaits her if she marries the heroic, but mortal, Aragon. She will have glorious days of love, children and great grand children, but ultimately she will outlast them all and they will become a distant memory as she fades into the shadows. His bleak description of her long years of loneliness and despair is incredibly powerful. She knows he is right and it will be a horrible eternity, but she goes ahead regardless because the love and the joy of children are worth it – however brief it seems to her father.

My favourite film is Cyrano de Bergerac (with Depardieu), which is the greatest tragic romance I’ve come across.

What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

I’ve been around writers my entire adult life because of my brother, David Wingrove, who is a science fiction author. A lot of my early reading material was influenced by him. When I hit fifty and decided to start writing, he gave me invaluable feedback on the early drafts of my first two books.

I have my own local writers group in Norwich and we are always reading out chapters of our work and giving each other feedback. I think that kind of direct communication with a group of writers is essential, but you have to work at building the trust and being prepared to engage in a positive way. What I haven’t yet established is a large network of beta readers who will look at the whole book and whether it works. I think my books could have benefited a lot from that kind of feedback.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

There is a huge back story that I have planned for my main character, Tom Barlow, and the first two books are littered with clues, but no one has picked up on it yet. The third book will start to open up Tom’s story a lot more and in the fourth book, his personal history emerges, which is expansive and strange. That is what worries me. I have written a couple of thrillers which are set in the near future, but the people are relatively straightforward. Do I want to take the reader into a very different world, which has been going on silently behind the scenes in the first two books? It’s a risk.

What was your hardest scene to write?

All the sex scenes. Thankfully, there are none in Dead Poor, but Feel.it is a ‘will they, won’t they’ love story.

I could have skipped over the sex, but one of the main characters, Roxanne, is on a journey of discovery. She can’t feel pain because of a teenage trauma involving her mother’s suicide. That makes her the mega star ‘Queen of Pain’ in the futuristic game show called The Tournament. However, she wants to leave both the game and the stardom behind her, so that she can be herself again – so she can feel again. It is the central theme of her story. A big part of that emotional and physical reconnection is with her own body and for a young woman, sex is inevitably wrapped up with that kind of journey.

I won’t be writing sex scenes again if I can help it. Everyone assures me that they turned out okay and they won’t be winning any bad sex awards, but they took weeks of editing to make them raunchy and intimate, without them being pornographic. I suspect that some readers will find them too much, others will simply enjoy.

What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters?

Nothing, because the characters are more than imitations by the time they find their place in the story. Some of the characters are based on people I haven’t seen for thirty years and I doubt that anyone would recognise themselves in the story. Except one I used to play football with, postie Paul from Donnie (Doncaster), but I told him.

Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

It is a detective series and I have drafted four of them. The first two actually cover the same 18 day period, with both books including several of the same main characters. Tom Barlow will walk out of a door in one book and walk into a room in the other book. As with the sex scenes, I won’t write anything like that again.

There are even a couple more thrillers that I have sketched out, ready to be written. What worries me is that I can’t think of anything different to write at the moment. I did a short story for an anthology my writers group are pulling together and it ended up being about the crazy 13th birthday party of the sociopathic Alexandria, one of the other main character in my books. I’ve realised that for me the characters come first and then the story happens. I would have to ‘invent’ a new central character, in order to write a different kind of book.

What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

This is going to sound silly because this book has a Goodreads rating from over 53,500 people and nearly 3,000 actual reviews, but it deserves more. Ursula LeGuin’s “The Dispossessed” is one of the greatest books of the 20th Century. The reason it isn’t rated as highly as some mainstream literature is simply because it is labeled science fiction. People pre-judge and turn away. The Dispossessed has many layers, it’s a great love story and the pages are packed with humanity. I read it eight times before I was thirty. Even the structure of the book reflects the theme of the book, which is about the nature of time and space. It is brilliant. Please give it a go.

How long to write a book?

My problem is finding the time to write (and to promote the finished product) while earning a living, looking after the kids and sharing good times with family and friends. The first two books were mostly written between 5am and 6am, over a three year period. I would think about plot, sections of dialogue and settings, while I cycled to and from work. I would then spend five minutes writing notes on my phone when I arrived and those hastily mis-typed lines would be my starting point (along with coffee) the following morning at 5am.

If you read Feel.it, you will notice that Roxanne, the heroine of the book, also cycles a lot, as it represents freedom and her own head space. This is not a coincidence.

 Catch up with Ian on social media:

Ian Wingrove’s blog

Get the books: Amazon

FeelIt (Medium)

Dead Poor 110915 (Medium)

Meet D.H. Gibbs

Today, we’re getting to know a bit more about the multi-genre talent, D.H. Gibbs. 

She hails from Trinidad and Tobago, is an author, illustrator, and lifelong bibliophile. She has found a wonderful way to blend her love of the written word with her artistic abilities by creating books for children and adults.
When not writing, she can be found dreaming up new, fantastical stories for her fans or indulging her love of art, reading, or planning her next great adventure.

Let’s talk to D.H. Gibbs

What is the first book that made you cry?

Full Circle By Danielle Steel

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

I believe it’s both. I feel energized while I’m doing it but once I stop I’m exhausted.

Have you ever gotten reader’s block?

Yes, I have and then I feel like a junky looking for my next fix. Stalking my fav authors to see if they have anything.

Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

As a multi genre author, I think about that regularly. LOL. But I have not made a final decision.

Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?

No, I don’t. I myself sometimes write sad scenes and cry like a fool. If you don’t have strong emotions you can’t always identify with the realness of your characters.

What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

My social media has blown up with a lot of indie authors this past year and I think the entire movement is so helpful and supportive that they make you want to work at your craft and be better at it.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Hire an editor!!

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

Scrivener, Buffer and Fiction Atlas Services.

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

I would choose a fox. It’s smart and a survivor.  

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

Of course, I read my book reviews. I’m ecstatic about the good ones and use the bad ones as a learning experience. Sometimes constructive criticism can help.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

For my first nook Nika, I planted easter eggs for the next two books. I’m hoping the readers would eventually link them all.

Do you Google yourself?

Not if I can help it.

What is your favorite childhood book?

Anything Nancy Drew or Enid Blyton

If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?

I would have taken more literary courses or become a librarian. That way I can inhale the smell of books all day.


 

Look for her latest book, A Touch of Kindness, to release in 2 short days–on August 19th! 

You can catch up with D.H. Gibbs here:  D.H. Gibbs

Meet Author Connie Cockrell

A 20-year Air Force career, time as a manager at a computer operations company, wife, mother, sister, and volunteer, provides a rich background for Connie Cockrell’s story-telling.

Cockrell grew up in upstate NY, just outside of Gloversville, NY before she joined the military at age 18. Having lived in Europe, Great Britain, and several places around the United States, she now lives in Payson, AZ with her husband: hiking, gardening, and playing Bunko. She writes about whatever comes into her head so her books could be in any genre.

She’s published sixteen books so far, has been included in five different anthologies and been published on EveryDayStories.com and FrontierTales.com.

Connie’s always on the lookout for a good story idea. Beware, you may be the next one.

Let’s get to know Connie. 

What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?

Only one and that was accidental. My husband and I were driving across country from visiting my family in New York. We came through New Mexico and stopped in Santa Rosa for the night. I set my western hero’s hometown there so I thought, this is great. I can actually see the place instead of googling it. I chose the town because it has the Santa Rosa river running through it. It turns out it’s nothing like I imagined. And it has this Big Blue Hole, which never came up in my searches. And the river is about thirty inches wide, though a lot of water does run through it. So, the descriptions in my story aren’t blown out of the water, pun intended. But if I do reference the town in future stories, I’ll have a better idea of what I’m talking about.

What is the first book that made you cry?

Gone with the Wind. I was 12 when I first read it and the description of Scarlett going hungry every night was just more than my pre-teen brain could handle.

Did you every consider writing under a pseudonym?

I did. My first book was drafted as a challenge from my daughter in 2011 for the National Novel Writing Month. During the challenge, I made contact with the Arizona Elsewhere monitor and she invited me to her on-line writing group, Forward Motion. One of the topics on the years old feed was whether or not to have a pen name. After reading all the pros and cons, I decided, no. Not unless I start writing erotica, LOL! I figure if James Patterson can write everything under one pen name, so can I.

Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

Each of my books can stand alone but my series stories do link to each other in a sequence. (Hint! Hint! Start with book one in each series.) It seems a natural way to write, for me, so that’s the way I roll.

What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

I’m old enough to remember the televised speech by John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address in 1961 where he asked of American citizens, “…ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.” I still get chills when I hear or read that speech. You can find the whole address at http://www.ushistory.org/documents/ask-not.htm.

What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters?

A debt of gratitude. Not that I’ve fashioned a character from a whole person. A character is generally based, for me at least, on bits and pieces of many others. Except myself. I put a lot of myself in my female protagonists. After all, we’re supposed to write what we know, right?

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Oh my! Like many authors, I’ve started works that have petered out in the middle. Two, in particular, come to mind because I’ve made the protagonists too perfect. That’s never a good thing and they both need to be re-written to correct that defect. LOL! Others are half plotted or no more than story ideas jotted down that I haven’t had time to start yet. There have to be at least six or seven of those, including a noir series set in WWII. I have a whole series planned with the first book drafted (a coming of age/YA series I call All About Bob, with mainly male protagonists) but I don’t want to start a new series right now because I have three already in progress (two SciFi and one cozy mystery). It’s a writer’s burden I fear.

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

Good question. It depends on the series or book. For example, that story I mentioned earlier with the protagonist from Santa Rosa, I didn’t research until I began the story. It’s a western set in central Arizona. So once I decided the location, there was some work to do to discover what was going on in that area at the end of the Civil War. Then research into firearms men would carry, even how to curry a horse, because I didn’t grow up with horses. My SciFi series Gulliver’s Station, I chatted with an aerospace engineer on how big to make a space station that could provide for 10,000 full-time residents, taking into consideration crop growth on the station, air production of various kinds and even what to do with the deceased! The noir I’m planning is going to take a lot of research before I start. Fashions for men and women, what men were exempt from serving and for what reasons, social mores of the time in both rural areas and in New York City, all kinds of things. The research is the fun stuff for sure.

What was your hardest scene to write?

In my very first book, I killed off the grand-daughter of my female protagonist. It had to be done but I cried all the way through the first and subsequent drafts. When my mom read it, she yelled at me for killing off the girl. I’ve had other hard scenes to write since then, but that was my first.

How long, on average, does it take you to write a book?

Generally, a month. A couple of thousand words per day will get the job done, especially if I’ve taken some time to write out some scene cards. What do I mean? A scene card for me is a sentence describing what I want to have happened in the scene. Sometimes I use 4X6 index cards, sometimes I just write or type them out on a page. The sentence will cover who’s the protagonist, antagonist, location, conflict and what the twist is at the end that will lead me to the next scene. If I have enough of these done for the book, say 60+ I can rock on through the book in no time. If, because of what I’ve already written a scene is no longer valid, I toss it out as irrelevant. Fun times. I don’t like to micro-plan, so the scene sentence gives me a direction, keeping me pointed at the ending I want, without cutting into my creativity. There have been books where I didn’t know what the ending was. Those are a wild ride!

What about my newest book?

Mystery at the Book Festival is the third book in my Jean Hays series, my only cozy mystery set so far. Jean is a retired Air Force Master Sergeant Project Manager, divorced after she and her AF husband, also a project manager, retired. She has an adult son with his own family who live in California. It turns out that Jean is a magnet for dead bodies in her little town of Greyson, AZ. She’s in constant conflict with the Chief of Police, Nick White and is best friends with her fellow amateur sleuth, Karen Carver. Karen is a native resident of Greyson and knows just about everything about everyone in town. They are friends with Liz Toscano, hard-bitten reported for the twice weekly town paper. In Mystery at the Book Festival, Karen and Jean find a body in the local community college store room still dripping blood. As the third body in a year and a half, the mayor wants Nick to put Jean behind bars or lose his job! So it’s up to Jean to find the real killer fast for both her sake and Nick’s.

Read an excerpt: Mystery at the Book Festival

She can be found at www.conniesrandomthoughts.com

Facebook:  ConniesRandomThoughts

Twitter: @ConnieCockrell or

Amazon Author:  Connie Cockrell

 

Meet Mystery Author, Linda Berry

Meet mystery author, Linda Berry. 

Your latest mystery, Pretty Corpse, was recently released. Tell us about the story.

The year is 1999. A serial rapist is targeting teen girls in San Francisco. While on patrol, Officer Lauren Starkley discovers one of the victims, and she’s shocked to find out the girl is a close friend of her daughter. The case instantly becomes intensely personal. Because she isn’t a detective, Lauren is restricted from investigating, but she does so nonetheless on her own time. Lauren has an uncanny ability to find obscure clues and link them together. Her relentless pursuit of the rapist draws her deeper into his world. He in turn, starts getting closer to Lauren and her daughter. Lauren needs to lure him out of hiding, fast, before her daughter becomes his next victim.

You populate your novels with an interesting mix of characters. Tell us about that.

My stories reflect the range of characters each of us knows in real life. We all have people we admire, people who threaten us or are just plain loony. I like to keep a reader alert and surprised by creating several interrelated stories that and ebb and flow through the main story. We are all multi-dimensional, and have many stories happening simultaneously in our lives, and sometimes conflict erupts on many fronts. I like to get into those emotional tsunamis and explore a person’s breaking point, and how they deal with the challenge. Complex characters that are bitterly wounded or pathologically twisted are interesting to me. I like to contrast the most vile and repugnant aspects of human nature to the most heroic and noble, and throw some quirky characters in for good measure.

How did you research this police thriller?

To write authentically, I do extensive research. That doesn’t mean I let my fingers do the walking. I have to give a big thank you to the police officers at Mission Station in San Francisco in 2001, when I wrote this first draft. My research for Pretty Corpse came in the form of dozens of ride-alongs I did with various female patrol officers. I chose the night shift when the city was rife with criminal activity, and I got to see these courageous women in action. Several of my characters were inspired by the female cops I came to know, and also by the captain of the station, who gave generously of his time to help me authenticate my writing. Many of the side stories in Pretty Corpse are based on actual events relayed to me by police officers from Mission Station.

Where do you write?

I write in a sunny office in my home overlooking a canal and peaceful wooded area. I live in Central Oregon, a resort town in the shadow of the Cascade Mountains.

You were an award-winning copywriter and art director for twenty-five years, and worked part of that time for the film industry. Did that experience shape your decision to become a novelist?

Absolutely. I had the privilege of collaborating with talented writers and some of the best editors in the business. I love books and have been an avid reader my entire life. I wrote novels as a passionate hobby. In fact, my three novels released this year by Winter Goose Publishing are the result of my efforts spanning a decade. Now that I’m retired, I write every day. It’s so much easier to produce good work when you can keep your train of thought moving forward, and are not constantly interrupted.

What do you love most about your work?

I love the creative process itself—the challenge of developing and constructing plots that continually surprise the reader and hold them in a state of suspense. Writing is both a passion and a compulsion—a truly satisfying form of escape. My reward comes when a reader tells me they couldn’t put my book down and they talk about my characters as though they’re real people. Then I know I did my job well.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Happiness comes to me in many forms. Appreciation of life itself is the foundation of happiness. I find this planet miraculous, from subatomic matter to the galaxies in space. I enjoy the beauty of ecosystems, how so many forms of life—plants, birds, mammals, reptiles, insects—the smallest creature to the largest, are dependent on each other for survival. My idea of perfect happiness is living on a healthy planet where people live together in peace and are trusted guardians of nature.

What is your greatest fear?

Being impoverished, homeless, or mentally or physically impaired and dependent on others. I did undergo some terrible threats to my health six years ago. I had a bout of debilitating pain for about 8 months, which diminished my ability to enjoy life. I’m now completely recovered, and feel I’ve been given a second chance at life. The experience sharpened my awareness of how fragile life is, how it can be taken away in an instant, and how one might be forced to languish in pain for a period of time. It heightened my appreciation for the quality of life I have now, for every precious moment I’m healthy and independent.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

Lack of patience. Sometimes I get caught up in the every day demands of life, and the illusion that I don’t have enough time to do everything I want to do. I have to remind myself at times to live in the moment, address what is happening right in front of me, and listen to people, even when I feel I’m short on time. Giving another human being a few minutes of conversation can make a huge difference in that person’s life. Kindness goes a long way.

Who in your profession do you most admire?

I read everything, and admire countless writers, from journalists to screen writers to poets to authors. I especially love mysteries, and I read an average of two books a week. If the writing is solid, and the story is well-constructed, I’ll read it regardless of genre.

What is your greatest extravagance?

Disconnecting from the world. Getting out in nature with my husband and our dog in our motorhome. I love being on a lazy schedule and disconnecting from social media, where the only decision I have to make is when to eat and what hikes to takey. I can write in uninterrupted peace for hours at a time, surrounded by nature, sometimes listening to the gentle patter of rain, watching water drip off leaves. I love going to national parks, off season. We went to Bryce and Zion and Arches and the Grand Canyon two years ago. Last year we went to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons, and this year we may be going to Yosemite.

On what occasion would you lie?

I don’t tell big extravagant lies, but I do tell baby lies frequently, mostly when complimenting people. For example: “no, your ass doesn’t look big in those jeans” or “you look marvelous” when in actuality, you look hungover, and you have stains on your shirt.

What do you dislike most in your work?

When I hit a brick wall and I have to stop writing, sometimes for days, while I process my story and play out different scenarios in my head. I never force the creative process. What generally helps me break through the logjam is reading. I’ll bury my nose in a good book, and before long, ideas start percolating to the surface. I also have a muse. My nail goddess, who’s held captive doing my mani/pedi for 2 hours, and I bounce ideas off her. She has a creative mind and has been a wonderful contributor to my stories for years.

When and where were you happiest in your work?

This current period in my life is the happiest. Now that I’m retired, I have the luxury of writing every day. I wake up eager to get to work. I take my coffee up to my sunny office and dig in. I believe I’m at my most happiest when my husband and I are traveling and we’re parked in a beautiful wilderness area and the peace of the place seeps into my bones. I can write with no interruption.

If you could, what would you change about myself?

I would take twenty years of physical wear and tear off my body. Mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, I would change nothing. If I had to lose twenty years of life experience to be in a younger body, I would say no. I’m more at peace with myself at this stage of life than I have ever been.

What is your greatest achievement in work?

Having three novels completed and coming out this year, 2017. It’s a wonderful sense of accomplishment to see the culmination of years of work and endless rewrites in a physical book. Hidden Part One and Pretty Corpse are out, and Hidden Part Two comes out in September. I’m expecting my fourth mystery, Quiet Scream, to be out in December or January.

What is your most marked characteristic?

My friendliness, and my sense of humor. I have always had a keen interest in people and I’m a good observer, passionately interested in humans and the world around me. I’m an optimist at heart, and I’ve been blessed with a jolly spirit. I enjoy socializing but the greater part of my waking life is spent in solitude, writing, reading, and doing projects.

What is your most inspirational location in your city?

I like to get out on the wilderness trails with friends and dogs. We have a beautiful river, the Deschutes, that meanders through town and its character changes every foot of the way. There are many meadows, sagebrush flats, waterfalls, and breathtaking views of the Cascade Range. The look of a wild river, the various sounds of water rushing, falling, cascading over boulders, is invigorating and soothing. Hiking clears my head of thoughts and worries and puts me in a state of peacefulness.

What is your best advice for beginning writers?

Write about something you love and then your passion will come out in your words. Write often, every day, if possible. Read, read, read. I read one or two books a week, and I also watch movies and TV productions that tell good stories. I take notes. I have volumes of notes and refer to them daily.

Watch Linda’s Youtube trailers

Hidden: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-bNoFgaD9U&t=7s

Pretty Corpse: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7QHSvirTYdw&feature=youtu.be

https://www.facebook.com/linda.berry.94617

www.lindaberry.net

@LindaBerry7272

lindaberrywriter@gmail.com

Here’s my review of Pretty Corpse

Linda Berry weaves a masterful tale of suspense in this novel heavy with police procedural details that reflect the time—1999. Set in beautiful San Francisco, the reader gets a glimpse of the grittier side of the city. Set nearly twenty years ago, we are reminded of how far we’ve come with science and technology and the challenges of crime solving years ago.

I quickly found myself pulled into protagonist Lauren Starkley’s world—a widowed cop raising a teenaged daughter, finding her way in what was still more of a man’s world back then, and dealing with crime on the late shift. She manages a multitude of roadblocks, both personally and professionally, all with grace and fortitude. Yes, she is a badass!

Murder and mayhem move the story along at a good clip as Lauren gets pulled into the dark world of a demented criminal. While working the night shift, the partners come upon a heinous crime scene that hits too close to home for Lauren. Someone is kidnapping and raping girls her daughter’s age, one victim is from her daughter’s class and that makes it personal. When the investigator in charge is slow to act, Lauren steps up and the real cat and mouse games begin.

Seamlessly, the complex characters, personal relationships, and criminal aspects of the book unfold, enmesh, and draw the reader in. The characters are multi-dimensional and realistic. And, that, coupled with an intriguing plot full of twists and turns, make this a must-read.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guess what time it is?

It’s Mystery & Thriller Week over at Goodreads!  

Mystery Week Author

What an exciting time. You can count on fun-filled days of interaction with you favorite mystery authors. Well, me at least. Check out my Goodreads page and follow me for updates.   

It’s day one so let’s get started. 

Here’s an excerpt from Still Life, book 1 in my Randi Lassiter series. I have yet to hear from anyone who’s solved the mystery before the ending. (Not that I’m making it a throw down or anything!) This is near the beginning of the book, when our lead detective arrives on scene. I was aiming for realism and grit. Meh, what can I say? Hopefully, I don’t fall too short of the mark. 


Jon drove his Jeep with the window unzipped and let the crisp air slap him in the face as he made his way to the bypass. Within minutes his Wrangler bumped to a stop against the concrete curb in front of Hometown Café. He turned off the ignition and sat. Sipping black coffee he’d picked up on the way, he popped a couple of ibuprofen, followed by three breath mints, and waited for the caffeine and painkiller combo to hit his bloodstream. He surveyed the bustling scene behind him in his side-view mirror.

EMS, local cops and sheriff deputies all on hand to offer assistance to the city jurisdiction dotted the area with a rainbow of uniform colors. Detectives employed by Mt. Ouisco, all three of them, were no doubt inside the official perimeter. Overkill in the number of personnel it took to cover a homicide and a potential contamination issue if they were wandering the crime scene. Jon knew it was bad when he saw the chief of police among the throng. There was an aura of frenzy as everyone vied to be part of the nightmare— everyone, that is, but him. He noted a remarkable absence of reporters. If this were Milwaukee, they’d have arrived alongside the first responders. Soon there would be an onslaught of news people, each sparring for a morsel like vultures over carrion.

Greg Stanton stood off to one side of the crowd nervously shifting foot to foot. Young and lanky with straight russet hair and flat, pale face, the rookie officer was just finishing his probationary period. He fidgeted with his duty belt and a government-issued Beretta and looked ill. A smile edged onto Jon’s face. When he worked homicide in Milwaukee, he’d dealt with more than his fair share of bloody murders. The worst were the gang killings where innocent children ended up as turf-war collateral damage. That kind of inhumane crap that was impossible to forget. This kid had it easy and didn’t even know it. The rookie looked his way; recognition crossed his face, and he waved spastically, desperate for help.

“Shit.” Jon did not wave back. He swallowed the dregs in the cup and tossed it onto the passenger side where it bounced off of several others on the floor. He got out and took his sweet time crossing the parking lot.

Unable to wait for the mountain to come to Muhammad, Stanton rushed up to meet Jon. “Hey, Detective. How are you doing? It’s a good thing we got you here to handle this… with your experience and all.” He trailed behind Jon like a puppy tripping over his own feet. Jon shot him an aggravated look that went unnoticed. “Guess you got lucky, huh?” the rookie added.

Jon pulled up short and turned to face the young officer. “Yeah. Lucky. You might want to redo your button job there, kid.” He pointed at the rookie’s shirt, which was a mess even by three a.m. standards. The kid blanched and turned his back to the crowd to fix it. Jon fought to keep from smiling. “At my first murder, I puked my guts out in the bushes not far from the corpse. The squad never let me live it down.” He patted the kid on the shoulder. “You puke yet?”

Stanton shook his head.

“Then you’re ahead of the curve.” Stanton blushed so deeply his freckles almost disappeared. A rural town with no major crime, Mt. Ouisco didn’t need— nor could they afford— a CSI team, so it fell to regular staff to conduct investigations. The local detectives typically dealt with things like B& E, vandalism, drug violations and theft. Jon knew full well their homicide skills would be academic at best. It was pretty much a given that he would be handed the investigation.

(DB Kennison. Still Life: The Randi Lassiter Series (Kindle Locations 264-291). W.R. Publishing.)


dbkennison-thedarksidedraft1-1

StillLife

 

Everyone who leaves a comment will be put in a drawing for an ebook of Still Life or The Dark Side (your choice). Tune in every day for more tidbits, contests, games, and all things mystery! 

And there’s more…

Today, I have a fun surprise that I’d like to share with you. I’ve teamed up with more than 50 crime fiction and crime thriller authors to give away a huge collection of novels to 2 lucky winners, PLUS  a Kindle Fire to the Grand Prize winner! You can win my novel STILL LIFE, plus books from authors like J.T. ELLISON and MICHAEL LISTER.
Enter the giveaway by clicking here: bit.ly/crime-fic-may-17 Good luck, and enjoy!

Forward Motion is Everything

Well, it’s done. My publisher has officially closed their doors. In the ever-changing world of book selling, Samhain and its owner, Crissy Brashear, went out with dignity—doing their best by their authors and employees under difficult circumstances.

But where does this leave me, you ask? With the announcement last year of a slowdown and eventual closure, I’ve had time to prepare. I’ve already begun to re-release STILL LIFE–book 1 in the Randi Lassiter series as an ebook on retail sites with print to follow. Final line edits were recently completed on THE DARK SIDE (book 2) and I’m prepping it now for launch. The hang up is, without a publisher, it’s all on me. And boy, this Indie publishing thing is a heck of a lot of work!

Fans will also be happy to know that I’m also working on the first book in a new suspense series featuring special agent, Becca Howell, with the department of justice (from Still Life) and outlining book 3 in the Randi Lassiter Series. See, forward motion is everything.

For your entertainment, here are the cover and blurb for THE DARK SIDE.

  Enjoy!

dbkennison-thedarksidedraft1-1

Coming Soon!

 

With the woman who tried to murder her finally behind bars, Randi Lassiter is wondering how much longer she must suffer the effects of the post-traumatic stress disorder that have plagued her for nearly a year. Just as she and her cop boyfriend, Jon Bricksen, settle into the routine of a happy couple, someone in town is murdered and the news threatens to send her down the rabbit hole again.

What Randi needs now is a P. I. case to focus on. When the only distraction available comes waltzing into her office, Randi embraces the opportunity like the lone life preserver on the Titanic. Too bad the client is her ex-husband, Stuart, who is looking for his missing new wife.

Randi’s decision to help the man she has sworn to loathe for all eternity is so out of character that Jon questions not only her judgment, but her mental health as well. When he worries that she has lost her last marble, Randi begins to keep secrets from him. The kind of secrets that could break a relationship.

When Stuart is suddenly arrested for murder, Randi stubbornly stands by her ex-man. As she attempts the impossible by proving him innocent, Jon is doing his best to find him guilty.

Pitted against one another, the couple’s love is tested. Can their relationship survive as a conspiracy of secrets place them in danger?

Click to read an excerpt

Author interview: Elena Hartwell

Today I’m hosting author Elena Hartwell.  Having spent years in the theater realm as a playwright, director, and producer, Elena has now turned her talent to writing fiction. Her debut mystery novel, One Dead, Two to Go  was released April 15th.

Let’s get to know Elena.         Elena Hartwell

What do you think people would be the most surprised to learn about you?

I hold a Ph.D. from the University of Georgia, but I was also a high school dropout.

That is a surprise.  It’s my belief that life is not about the destination, but the journey. I imagine you have great stories about the journey to your Ph.D.  That sounds like an intriguing conversation.  Let’s bookmark that for a future interview!

Authors can sometimes struggle to find a balance between work and play. What do you enjoy most in your free time?

Spending time with my horses. I have a 13-year-old Arabian gelding, Chance, who is a rescue from a kill pen. I’ve been working with him for about a year and a half. He’s come through amazing changes – from being a horse that was dangerous to be around, not because he was aggressive, but because his fear level was so high – to being a very connected, sweet horse. My husband and I recently bought a second horse for him to ride. Jasper is an eight-year-old Palomino Paint, who spent most of his life on a working ranch near the Nevada/Utah border. He’s very confident, and smart, so he’s always testing to make sure you’re paying attention. He’s a great match for my husband, who is basically the same way. I love being out at the farm where we board them, and it’s even better now that I can share that experience with my hubby.

 My husband and I have done dog rescue, but that’s nothing compared to horses.  I can only imagine the work involved in getting Chance to trust people. He’s one lucky horse. 

Other than a computer, what modern convenience could you never live without?

I have extremely bad eyesight. I’ve worn hard contact lenses for over twenty years. I would be miserable if I had to wear glasses, because they can’t make a prescription strong enough to fix my vision without it being like looking out of a fishbowl. I carry an extra pair of contacts when I travel!

 Every author has a process—what works for them when they write. What does your writing process look like from first scribbles to finished manuscript?

I usually start from a sense of a character. Someone who I find interesting. I start to think about who they are, what they want, who is in their life, and what isn’t working, what they’d like to change. Then I’ll write an opening scene or at least something I think is near the beginning. Then I often write the end. This gives me a sense of the overall scope of the story. Then I go back and write the middle. I never outline in advance – I’m very organic – though sometimes I outline after I’ve written the first draft. Doing this allows me to see where I might have something missing or in the wrong place. Then I start rewriting for story arc, does the story make sense and are there any scenes missing? I also look at character arc, has each character had a journey and learned something or changed in some way. Then I usually share my work with someone I trust, I have a writing partner I’ve been working with for several years, she reads everything I write. At this point in my career, I’m writing books two and three for the Eddie Shoes Mystery series, so the next thing I will do is send my draft to my development editor and a few beta readers. I take in their feedback, rewrite again, send it back to my development editor. Once we both agree it’s “done” – it goes to the final editor who does line editing/proofreading. She may also give story suggestions if something needs clarity, for example. I take her notes, do the rewriters, and then it’s on to the next book.

 What is your all time favorite book and why?

Probably The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein. It was a book I loved early in life and I’ve returned to again and again. I love the mythic structure and the quest, but I also love the characters and the incredible detail of the world he created.

Project research, love it or hate it?

Love, love, love research. So much so, I’ve recently been a guest blogger about research and I’ll be leading a workshop on research for fiction writers with EPIC (writers group) in Edmonds, Washington, in October. I research before I start to write, I research during, and—because I’m writing a series—I continue to research after a book is finished so I get more educated on certain things that continue over the arc of the books. I love all kinds of research. I read non-fiction about a topic, interview experts, and ask for experts to read sections or entire manuscripts. I watch documentaries or films made in a specific time period. I love to site visit – and often plan trips to areas where I’m setting a story or a character is from. I find being “in the world” of a character can be very useful, for specific details and also atmosphere or character quirks. Because speech patterns can be regional, it’s also useful to take in the sound of local dialects.

 Is there a specific author who inspires you?

Sue Grafton has always been an inspiration to me, as she was the first mystery author I followed through a series, starting back in my teens. I am also inspired by Tony Hillerman, for writing a series set out in a rural area and around another culture. I love books like Connelly’s Bosch series, and enjoy reading books set in big cities, but sometimes I want to be engrossed in a landscape that’s different and wild.

 Is there a genre you haven’t written but are thinking about trying?

Science fiction/fantasy. I’d love to be the next Anne McCaffrey.

 

Who wouldn’t, what an inspiration she was!   And look, she had a soft spot for horses, too!

 

 

 

 

What is your favorite movie adaptation of a book?

I have a personal connection to Fast Times at Ridgemont High, so I’ve loved that movie since it came out. I went to Clairemont High School in San Diego, where Cameron Crowe graduated just a few years earlier. Though much of the film is fictionalized, there were still recognizable instructors and parts to the film. I also have to admit, I enjoyed the Harry Potter and The Hunger Games adaptations. If I can include television, I love the television series of Bosch, Longmire, and Miss Fischer’s Murder Mysteries.

 

I’m familiar with all of these except Miss Fischer. (Hang on, checking Amazon availability–Yes! They have her in all formats including a calendar. Interesting.)

If you could host a literary dinner party with three writers, dead or alive, whom would you invite? 

J.R.R. Tolkein, Dorothy Parker, and Charles Darwin.

Jrr TolkienDorothy Parker 2

 

 

 

 

charles-darwin-quote

That’s an interesting group, I wonder what conversation would be like at dinner.

What books are currently reading?

Yesterday, on my way to Vegas for the Las Vegas Writer’s Conference, I finished Motive by Jonathan Kellerman and started Gray Mountain by John Grisham. I’ve always been a big fan of both writers, though I had a hard time with something that happened to an animal in Motive.

How long did it take you to write your debut book?   

I wrote the draft I submitted to my publisher in a little over a year. Then I rewrote with my editor for the next seven months, so roughly two years.

Tell us a little about ONE DEAD, TWO TO GO.

On the surface, my PI is investigating a murder. But under the surface, ONE DEAD is about a woman finding her way in the world. She’s trying to figure out how the people in her life fit together and what she wants moving forward.

What other projects are you working on?

Books two and three for the Eddie Shoes Mystery Series (TWO DEAD ARE BETTER THAN ONE and THREE DEAD, YOU’RE OUT). I also have two other novels in various states of “finished” that I’d like to pursue as potential future series.

You’re definitely one busy gal, Elena. Thanks for joining me today, congratulations on the release of your debut novel and best of luck with everything.

Check out ONE DEAD, TWO TO GO:

One Dead, Two to GoPrivate Investigator Edwina “Eddie Shoes” Schultz’s most recent job has her parked outside a seedy Bellingham hotel, photographing her quarry as he kisses his mistress goodbye. This is the last anyone will see of the woman … alive. Her body is later found dumped in an abandoned building. Eddie’s client, Kendra Hallings, disappears soon after. Eddie hates to be stiffed for her fee, but she has to wonder if Kendra could be in trouble too. Or is she the killer? Eddie usually balks at matters requiring a gun, but before she knows it, she is knee-deep in dangerous company, spurred on by her card-counting adrenaline-junkie mother who has shown up on her doorstep fresh from the shenanigans that got her kicked out of Vegas. Chava is only sixteen years older than Eddie and sadly lacking in parenting skills. Her unique areas of expertise, however, prove to be helpful in ways Eddie can’t deny, making it hard to stop Chava from tagging along. Also investigating the homicide is Detective Chance Parker, new to Bellingham’s Major Crimes unit but no stranger to Eddie. Their history as a couple back in Seattle is one more kink in a chain of complications, making Eddie’s case more frustrating and perilous with each tick of the clock. Book 1 in the Eddie Shoes Mystery series.

You can find Elena Harwell on her blog:  Elena Hartwell’s Blog