Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Interview and Book Giveaway with Julianna Deering

by Jeff Reynolds



I enjoy several types of stories but if I had to choose one genre, it would be easy -- cozy mystery. I've been hooked on Hercule Poirot since seeing Murder On The Orient Express. The one I've read most recently is Rules For Murder, the first Drew Farthering mystery by DeAnna Dodson, writing as Julianna Deering. And a lucky reader will have the same opportunity -- PLEASE read the rules below.

Jeff Reynolds:  Welcome to Sleuths and Suspects. What got you interested in writing in general and in mysteries specifically?

Julianna Deering: 
I have always been a reader, though I never thought I’d ever be a writer.  But when I was in school, I started writing dramatic scenes just to amuse myself.  The more boring the class, the more I wrote.  Those scenes eventually became my first book, In Honor Bound.

As far as mystery is concerned, I’ve been a fan of Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers for a long time.  I think Masterpiece Mystery actually got me started, and then I wanted to read the real books behind the shows.  I had so much fun not only with the actual mysteries, but with the sets and the costumes and the period dialogue, I just had to try my hand at writing that type of story.

JR:  Tell us about your latest novel. Is this the beginning of a series?

JD:  
Yes, Rules of Murder is the first of what I hope will be a long series of mystery novels.  Death by the Book is due out in March, and Murder at the Mikado should be out next summer.  I also write under my real name, DeAnna Julie Dodson, and have published seven books so far.  Three medieval romances (In Honor Bound, By Love Redeemed and To Grace Surrendered) and four contemporary mysteries for Annie’s Attic (Letters in the Attic, The Key in the Attic, The Diary in the Attic and The Legacy in the Attic).





But let’s go back to Rules of Murder.  It is basically a throwback to Christie and other mystery writers of the 1920s and ’30 with a little of The Thin Man’s Nick and Nora Charles thrown in.  Drew Farthering is a rich young Englishman with little more to do than amuse himself with his society friends.  He meets American debutante Madeline Parker at his mother’s weekend party and they come across a body.  Soon there is a second death, and they decide to try to figure out whodunit based on what they’ve learned from their favorite murder mysteries.  It’s a lot of fun.

JR:  You have chosen to write the current series under a pen-name. What led you to do that? What are the pros and cons of using a fictitious name?

JD: 
Having a pen name was the suggestion of my publisher, and I think it was a good one.  The Drew Farthering Mysteries are different from my Annie’s Attic Mysteries and my medieval romances.  They want readers to know this is something new to head up their line of historical mysteries.

JR:  Your story is set in England of the 1930's. I'm sure that setting has a lot of similarities to Dallas in the 2010's, but if I'm wrong, how did you do your research?

JD: 
No, I’m afraid contemporary suburban North Texas and 1930s England don’t have much in common, but I much prefer writing and reading about something different from my usual life.  Most of my research came from reading the classic mysteries of the 1930s (which were contemporary at the time) and watching movies that were made in the 1930s.  I’m glad I’m writing during an era where there was film.  I realize that then as now, movies are a somewhat distorted view of real life, but they’re a wonderful glimpse into fashions and customs and technology and just life in general at that time.

JR:  I read a book that suggests mystery writers tend to be outliners and suspense writers opt for the blank page approach. However, my favorite suspense authors go more for an outline, and I was half way through writing my mystery before I realized who did it. What is your approach in developing your mystery?

JD: 
I start with the end.  I know who did it and why and then build the rest of the story to support that.  Agatha Christie often simply made the murderer be the least likely person at the end, but that’s not me.  I need to know.

JR:  One of your hobbies is watching NHL, which I suspect is normal for female Dallas residents (better than the Cowboys, right?) How does this and your other hobbies (like quilting) fit with your writing? Is it inspiration, or more of a way to take a break?

JD: 
No, hockey is still a niche sport here in Texas, though it is becoming more popular with the increased availability of ice rinks and public school hockey programs, so being a hockey fan, especially a female one, is rather unusual.  But I grew up with the Cowboys, so I love them too and have high hopes for the, year in and year out.  Hockey and football are definitely just a pastime for me though.  Everyone needs a break from work, no matter what the job is.  But sewing, whether it’s quilting or cross stitch or something else, feeds my creative brain.  It’s a different kind of creativity though.  Writing is purely mental.  Sewing is mental and physical and tactile.  There’s something about the feel and look of fabrics and threads and buttons and everything else that feeds me creatively.

JR:  I like the faith angle in Rules of Murder. How did that develop? And are you involved in ministry other than writing as well?

JD: 
I write from a Christian worldview because I don’t have any other.  I have to write truth, and that is my truth.  I’m not currently in ministry, though I sang with my church’s music group for many years.  I miss it.

JR:  Besides the sequel for Rules of Murder, what's on your writing agenda?

JD: 
I’m currently working on the edits for Murder at the Mikado, and that should keep me busy for a while.  After that, I will probably work on a fantasy story I’ve been wanting to do for a long time, and I may even do more historical romance because I miss that, too.  But if readers like Drew and Madeline, then I’ll probably start working on Book Four.  They may have to go to America and listen to some of the Big Bands.

JR:  Thank you for your time. Could you share your website and other ways to get in touch with you?

JD: 
Thank you so much for letting me visit.  I’ve enjoyed our chat..  Readers can find me at www.juliannadeering.com or https://www.facebook.com/AuthorJuliannaDeering or www.deannajuliedodson.com or @deannajuldodson on Twitter.  You can also find out more about me and the book on Bethany House’s site here:  http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/books/rules-of-murder/343331.  They have an author interview, an excerpt from the book and discussion questions.

*   *   *   *   *

Now, it's time for the book giveaway. If you'd like a copy of Rules For Murder, here's Rules For Winning The Contest.
  1. Leave a comment on the blog.
  2. Include your e-mail. No, just because the web-site lets you know when there's new postings doesn't mean we have the e-mail. 
  3. If you were to write a mystery from a different era and/or a different place, like Julianna doing England in the '30's, what time and place would you write it?

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Welcome Kathryn J. Bain

I met Kathryn years ago when I'd just begun writing on an ACFW critique loop. She was kind enough to read over my subs and push me to be a better writer. Today I'd like to welcome her to Sleuths and Suspects.

Kathryn J. Bain began writing more than twelve years ago. Her fifth book, Beautiful Imperfection, will be available September 29, 2013.

She is the former President of Florida Sisters in Crime and is currently the Public Relations Director for Ancient City Romance Authors.

To survive and pay bills, she has been a paralegal for over twenty years and works for an attorney who specializes in elder law.

She has two daughters and a dog named Gretchen. Her first grandchild, Hope was born in May, 2013.

Kathryn grew up in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. In 1981, she moved to Boise, but it apparently wasn't far enough south, because two years later she headed to Jacksonville, Florida and has lived in the sunshine ever since.



Kathryn, I'm sure you get lots of questions. What's one of the most popular things people ask you?


Why in the World Did you Use That?
As a published author, I’m constantly getting asked where did you come up with your ideas? Why did you use that particular item in your book?
The answers are sometimes easy. For instance, in my book Breathless, I used a shooting that occurred in my area for the reason Matthew quit his job with the DEA. In Knight & Day, the restaurants are all places I enjoy eating in Jacksonville.
The problem is when you get the not so easy plot or scenes. Ask any publisher, and they’ll tell you they want the same thing, only different. Say what? For instance for my upcoming inspirational romantic suspense book Beautiful Imperfection, I wanted my heroine to have a scar that she was uncomfortable with.
I know. I know. You’ve read these type of books before. The woman who was attacked, the guy slashed her throat, but she survived, wearing turtlenecks to hide the scar on her neck. I didn’t want what is considered a “cool” scar. You know the scar from an attack or the bullet wound the police officer has. Lethal Weapon 3 showed this hilariously when Renee Russo and Mel Gibson compared “battle” scars.
However, for my book, I wanted a scar no one else could see but my heroine. One that went to the core of her being a woman. That meant breast cancer. Teddy Federline is dealing with the depression that sometimes comes after the surgery. She feels like she’s deformed. Her former love coming back looking even better than when she knew him doesn’t help. To make matters worse, she witnesses a mass shooting. Now she’s stuck in a house under the watchful eye of this man she’d hoped would be fat and ugly the next time she saw him. But life doesn’t work that way.
Some might think I used the scar from breast cancer because I consider it an “uncool” mark. That’s the furthest thing from the truth. The more I learned from women who have survived, the more I realized just how courageous they were. They are unsung heroes who have faced a foe and won.
As my hero Sloan Michaels tells Teddy, “That scar isn’t a sign of a deformity. It’s a badge of strength and courage. You should be proud of it because you’ve conquered something horrific and made it through to the other side.”

Thanks for joining us today. Kathryn has been gracious to offer one commenter an e-book bundle of her four books. Please leave your email address so we can contact you.

Breathless, inspirational romantic suspense;

Catch Your Breath, the sequel to Breathless;

Knight & Day, a humorous mystery; and

Game of Hearts, a humorous novella.











Interview with Ellen Parker

Today, I have the honor of interviewing one of my critique partners, Ellen Parker. I look forward to reading her submission each week. One of those works has just been published: Starr Tree Farm.





Jeff Reynolds:  Welcome to Sleuths and Suspects, Ellen. Since this blog focuses on Christian writing, could you share how both your faith and writing journeys began?
 


Ellen Parker:  Thank you for the invitation to share some thoughts with your readers. I’ve been a Christian my entire life, even when church attendance and activity varied through the years. My writing simmered in the background until computers made it so much easier to correct spelling. Then, as my children moved out on their own, I devoted more and more time to creating a world filled with characters moving toward a happy ending.

JR:  Your debut publication has just hit the stands. Could you tell us about it?
 


EP:  Starr Tree Farm is the story of a young widow. It begins one year after her husband is murdered, and the stress of his unsolved case and an invitation from relatives take her away from St. Louis to the small Wisconsin village of Crystal Springs. Also back in the community after years away is Brad Asher. Laura remembers him as the pesky neighbor boy from childhood visits but he’s grown, matured, and changed in many ways. As Laura and Brad renew their acquaintance, a bit of the dark side of humanity pokes above the surface in the peaceful village – aimed at Laura.

JR:  You're probably familiar with the advice that good writers should be good readers. Who do you enjoy reading the most? Is there any authors/books that have influenced you which would surprise those who enjoy your writing?
 

EP: I’ve tried to keep my reading on a fairly wide plateau and not limit myself to only one genre. As a result it would be hard to credit only a few writers with influence. Two that come to mind are Joanna Bourne with her fine romance novels set against the French Revolution (TheSpymaster’s Lady, My Lord and Spymaster, The Forbidden Rose, and The Black Hawk), and David Guterson and his excellent use of language in Snow Falling on Cedars.

JR:  I've read that suspense writing is best done without an outline (Stephen King has that philosphy), but my favorite suspense writers (Randy Singer, Amy Wallace, Heidi Glick) have a different perspective. Are you an outliner, or a blank pager?
 

EP:  I work from an outline but keep it flexible. The identity of the villain has been known to change from one draft to the next.

JR:  You are a former ACFW. May I ask what led you to join the American Christian Fiction Writers, the benefits/deficits of being a member, and why you decided it was time to leave?
 

EP: In 2009 I attended the Green Lake Christian Writers Conference and our instructor for the fiction workshop was Patti Lacy. I first learned of the ACFW from her. I enjoyed my membership and view it as another piece in my writer’s education. I left because the characters I write may be Christians, but their faith arc is not a major portion of the story I want to tell. I also feel I can reach a larger audience via ABA.

JR:  I don't know if you want this to be public information, but we happen to be critique partners. (Hope the readers don't hold that against you!) Besides our group, are you a member of a non-Christian critique group as well? How has being in your critique group(s) assisted in your writing?

EP: 
My local Romance Writers of American (RWA) chapter maintains a critique group and I participate as much as other activities allow. Critique groups have helped make my writing better – from basics like POV and stripping repetitive words to strengthening the motivation of my characters.

JR:  From the perspective of a Christian writing outside of the CBA market, what do you see as the future of Christian fiction? In other words, if a young Christian writer asked for your advice, what would you suggest?

EP: 
I think Christian fiction has a strong and important place in the publishing world. I’d suggest that the writers and publishers try to keep their focus on the largest group possible. For example: If your target audience is a Christian woman of middle age, then produce stories that she would be apt to share with her mother, her daughter, or her neighbor even if their faith is not as public.

JR:  What's next on the horizon, both writing-wise and other-wise?

EP: 
My work-in-progress is another romantic suspense set in Crystal Springs. I intend to remain active in my local RWA chapter. I enjoy travelling, and hope to soon complete the goal of having visited all fifty states.

JR:  Thank you for your time. If someone wants to keep up with your writing, where should they go?

EP:
Readers can get glimpses into my life and contact me on my blog: www.ellenparkerwrites.wordpress.com or on Facebook: www.facebook.com/ellenparkerwrites.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Interview with Lisa Lickel

Lisa Lickel


Recently, I interviewed author Lisa Lickel. 


Heidi: You state, “I live and write in beautiful Wisconsin in a 160-year-old Great Lakes ship captain’s house.” How did you find such a cool home? Where do you spend your time writing? Has your house/property served as inspiration for one of your novels?


Lisa: Hi, Heidi, thanks for letting me visit today. Our house was sort of an accident. I’ve always loved history, but we ended up with this house because it was in our price range when we were looking. The cool part—learning about it—came later. I write all over the house with my laptop, sometimes on the deck, the front porch, but mostly on the couch. Hmm—yes, the house/family was the inspiration behind the Yankee Boy, a yet-to-be-published story in my ethnic settler children’s series.

Heidi: You write, blog, edit, etc. What is your schedule like?

Lisa: It’s so crazy you can’t believe it. When I try to schedule, God laughs, so I go with the flow. I’ve been nearly finished with my current work in progress since June, but I really am close. When I say I’m going to take a day for my book, then something else comes up. My editing clients are close to first priority, and my commitments as the literary magazine editor for Wisconsin Writers Association deadlines. Blog deadlines when I’m scheduled…I try to keep things straight on calendars and a wipe board.

Heidi: How many books have you written?

Lisa: Written: Last count, 12 novels, 6 children’s stories and a novella, a short story in a collection; my current WIP is nearly done, so make that 13; 4 radio plays have been produced, short stories, newspaper features, and so forth.
Published: 7, and 2 that were re-sold, re-written and re-packaged; 2 currently under contract.

Heidi: You state, “I like to write stories that define and defend contemporary families.” Tell me more about the characters/families in your most recent release.


a photo with red flowers is shown on the cover on top of another photo


Lisa: My latest release, The Newspaper Code, features a young family in which both parents, Judy and Hart, have regular work and a brand new baby. Judy’s job is threatened and she has to go through the whole identity crisis if she loses her teaching job. Hart’s widowed mom is getting married again, to a man who’s been divorced, and he’s concerned about her and whether marrying someone who’s failed once will fail again. Judy’s friend’s daughter had kicked her husband out, and then had to admit to her mom that she was pregnant…it all turns out okay, as only HAE fiction does, but still, there are lot of different ideas about family, what constitutes family and our traditional and non-traditional ideas and roles in society.

Heidi: How do you like to spend your time when you are not writing?

Lisa: I read a lot, pull weeds in the summers, spend time with friends and family, travel, try to take care of my house, but I have my best cleaning days when I’m writing. I volunteer with InterFaith, an organization that helps elderly and disabled do everyday living activities from home, and church stuff.

Heidi: How may readers connect with you?

Lisa: I’m on most of the usual social media sites, Facebook and Goodreads, and have an Amazon author page. My website is http://www.lisalickel.com

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/lisalickel

Monday, August 12, 2013

Review of I, Saul, a new international thriller by Jenkins and MacDonald

I, Saul by Jerry B. Jenkins

I recently read I, Saul by Jerry B. Jenkins (with James S. MacDonald). This international thriller is being dubbed as a Christian Da Vinci Code. I, Saul is a different sort of novel, and kudos to Jenkins/MacDonald for originality. The story involves Augie, a professor, who travels across the globe to help find an artifact tied to the apostle Paul.

Jenkins is one of my favorite writers. I enjoyed the Left Behind series, Hometown Legend, and the Precinct 11 novels. I even drove three hours once to hear Jenkins speak at Taylor University. All that to say, I am a fan, and yet, it just wasn't my favorite Jenkins novel. To be fair, I read this novel through the lens of a fellow author. I would have liked to have seen longer scenes, characters developed more, and POV handled differently (I almost wonder if separate parts were written by each author?). It is possible that readers (who are not authors) might not feel the same and would thoroughly enjoy the story.

What I did like is that Jenkins/MacDonald did produce an original concept. It is always more risky to step out and try something different because not everyone might like it. I liked the parts that contained Biblical characters Luke and Paul the best because it was interesting to consider what Paul’s life might have been like (apart from what we already know).

To learn more about I, Saul, please view the trailer.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed are my own. 

Interview with John Robinson

Heidi: BEFORE I INTERVIEW JOHN, I HAVE TO TELL A FUNNY STORY. WHEN I MOVED TO OHIO, I JOINED CHRISTIANWRITERS.COM, AND THE FIRST REAL LIVE AUTHOR I CORRESPONDED WITH IN CYBERSPACE WAS JOHN ROBINSON. I LIKED JOHN’S BOOKS BECAUSE THEY WERE SET IN CINCINNATI, NEAR WHERE I LIVE. LATER, I JOINED ACFW, AND LO AND BEHOLD, THE FIRST EVENT I AM SUPPOSED TO ATTEND HAS JOHN ROBINSON AS THE SPEAKER. I TOLD MY HUSBAND I WAS REALLY NERVOUS ABOUT ATTENDING BECAUSE JOHN WAS A REAL LIVE AUTHOR, AND I MIGHT SAY SOMETHING STUPID. ANYWAY, I ATTENDED AND ENDED UP RIDING TO THE EVENT WITH ANOTHER REAL LIVE AUTHOR, AND I MET JOHN. I WAS SO NERVOUS, I ENDED UP CHATTING WITH HIS WIFE, WHO IS VERY NICE BY THE WAY. ANYWAY, NOW THAT I’M PUBLISHED, I LOOK BACK AND LAUGH AT HOW SCARED I WAS OF “REAL LIVE PUBLISHED AUTHORS.” FOR ALL YOU UNPUBBED WRITERS OUT THERE, I PROMISE THAT PUBLISHED AUTHORS ARE JUST REGULAR PEOPLE.

SO NOW ON WITH THE INTERVIEW….

Heidi: HOW MANY BOOKS HAVE YOU PUBLISHED?

John: Right now, Heidi, the count stands at six:  Sockmonkey Blues, Until the Last Dog Dies, When Skylarks Fall, To Skin a Cat, Last Call, and The Radiance. The first four are part of a series, and were originally published by David C. Cook/RiverOak. The main character, Joe Box, is a transplanted Southerner and a widower in his late fifties. He’s also a Vietnam vet and former Cincinnati street cop, and for the past twenty-five years he’s been a private investigator. A few years back he became born again, and since then he’s been trying to figure out how to balance his gritty profession against his new walk of faith. The Radiance is a stand-alone SF thriller, and Last Call we’ll talk about in a second.

Heidi: WHAT IS YOUR LATEST PROJECT?

John:  It’s called Pitfall, and is the first of a new general market series my agent, Chip MacGregor, has been showing to editors. The set-up: Cameron Bane, a former Army Ranger, exacts a chilling revenge against the shadowy government agents whose disastrous intelligence error resulted in the loss of his entire command in Iraq. Using their hush money against them, he now takes on hopeless tasks for helpless people, engaging in rough adventures that just skirt the edge of the law.

For free.

Pitfall concerns Cameron’s latest mission, finding industrialist Jacob Cahill’s missing daughter Sarah and bringing her safely home. But for Cameron, nothing ever goes quite as planned. In searching for the girl he will encounter a new and unimaginable corruption hiding beneath a shining corporate fa├žade. And it is here he will also come face to face with a living nightmare, a swift and ruthless killer known only by a macabre appellation: Boneless Chuck. Every dark trick Cameron learned in dealing death to the deserving will be brought to bear as he battles to fulfill his promise to Sarah’s father. But the right person is on the job. Because sometimes it takes a man who’s spent quality time in the realms of the damned … to send someone else there.

So strap down and hang on. Cameron Bane has just been dropped into hell.

Last Call by John Robinson


Heidi:  YOU HAVE A GIVEAWAY PLANNED. PLEASE TELL ME MORE ABOUT IT.

John:  It’s an apocalypse-with-a-twist thriller, Last Call. Here’s the set-up: The Bible makes it clear no one knows the day or the hour of Christ's return. But it doesn't say we won't know the month. Or the week.

When every Christian on Earth simultaneously receives a message that Christ will return sometime in the coming week, the world is thrown into stark panic. Two old friends, hardened combat veterans from the closing days of the Vietnam War, set out on a suspenseful quest to redeem that time.

What they can't know is they and their entire church have been targeted for satanic annihilation.

It’s a Kindle e-book, and normally goes for $2.99. But this coming Wednesday, August 14, it’ll be free for one day only. Tell everyone!

Heidi: YOU’VE BEEN CALLED THE MOST DANGEROUS MAN IN CHRISTIAN FICTION. PLEASE EXPLAIN.

John: Oh, golly; that’s a loaded question. I guess maybe I should give a little background first. I’d always liked to write, even from my early teen years, and when I was in college I was student affairs editor for the school paper. Years passed though, and that love seemed to fade. But a decade ago it came roaring back, and in an unexpected way. It was New Years Day, 1999, and I was watching one of the bowl games on TV when suddenly I started seeing something different on the screen. Don’t laugh, but it was almost like watching a movie. During that I was unaware of the passing of time. When I roused myself I found only a few minutes had passed, but amazingly I had the entire plot of the original version of Last Call completely lined up in my head; it was then just a matter of writing it down and editing it. That process took about a year. Finding a house that would take such a controversial novel proved to be a challenge, though, and it wasn’t until 2008 that it was sold to a small Christian publisher. During those intervening years I wrote and sold the Joe Box novels, and began the Cameron Bane series. In 2012 I got the rights back to Last Call, and after tweaking it and updating it, I put it up on Kindle.

Speaking of Joe Box, because of its theme and unconventional main character, Until the Last Dog Dies was a booger to get published. My agent shopped it tirelessly, but kept coming to me back with stuff like “they love your writing, John, but the character of Joe Box scares them to death; they’re afraid women won’t buy it.” To which I responded, “jeeze Louise, it’s not written for women!” Months pass, and my agent finally says they’ve done all they could, but can’t place it with anybody. That’s in December of 2002. Flash forward to July of 2003. The CBA trade show is in Orlando that that year, and my agent is attending. As the story was told to me, the head buyer of one of the largest Christian bookstore chains is speaking with one of the marketing directors for Cook Communications, which owns RiverOak Publishing. They’re talking about this and that, and the buyer says in an off-hand way, “I heard you’ve bought a novel featuring a Christian private investigator.” The Cook guy says no, he’d heard wrong, they took a pass on it. To which the buyer says, “that’s funny; we could probably move a lot of units of that.” The Cook guy takes that info to his people and they tell him, “how about that, see if it’s still available.” The Cook guy finds my agent and asks if Until the Last Dog Dies is still on the table. Stunned, my agent says yes, and they proceed to verbally cut the deal on the floor of the CBA. True story!

So to get back to that “most dangerous man” thing, what I write is raw, rough, life-changing tales that may infuriate and may delight, but hopefully will never bore.

Heidi: ONE OF YOUR CHARACTERS, JOE BOX, HAS A CAT NAMED NOODLES. WHERE DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR THE NAME?

John: Back in my hippie days one of my favorite music groups was Traffic, and its leadman, Dave Mason, cut a solo album a few years later. On the liner notes he had a picture of his cat, Noodles, and I just loved the name. His cat isn’t as banged-up as mine, though!

Heidi: JOHN, YOU CONDUCT RESEARCH SO WELL, I BELIEVED YOU SERVED IN VIETNAM. WHAT IS THE MOST INTERESTING THING YOU HAVE LEARNED FROM YOUR RESEARCH OVER THE YEARS?

John: When I started digging into the back story, I had no idea we’d had troops in the ground in Vietnam since as early as 1957. That astounded me.

Heidi: JOHN, HOW MAY READERS CONNECT WITH YOU?


John:  They can either email me at gravityfades2000@yahoo.com, or leave a comment on my blog (which I’ve neglected to update for far too long), at www.johnrobinsonbooks.com. Thanks for having me, Heidi!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Interview and Giveaway with D.A. Featherling

CONGRAULATIONS
GAIL PALLOTTA
WINNER!
 

I'm happy to welcome Dorothy Featherling to Sleuths and Suspects this week. Dorothy writes cozy mysteries and has graciously offered one of her books as a giveaway. Just leave a comment and your email address and be a follower to enter for a chance to win. Here we go!!

Dorothy-Featherling-8x10-Web.jpg
1.           Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m a native Texan and have primarily lived in Central Texas. I’ve been writing for 10-12 years; took time out to open and run a home staging business for the past four years (it’s still active, BTW), but have decided to devote myself to writing now as my principal occupation. Since I’m retired, I can do that. I have one son and a most precious grandson. I started writing my first book on my lunch hour while working at the University of Texas and that began my writing journey. I enjoy reading (actually, I’m an avid reader and sometimes average one book a day), crafts, shopping, and of course, spending time with my family.

2.           Tell us about your most recent book/or the book we are focusing on.

My first book is what we’re discussing today. It’s a mystery, book 1 in a series entitled “It’s Murder at the Office”. The book is “It Adds Up to Murder.” The back cover copy reads:

“Abigail Newhouse is forced to work temporary jobs to make ends meet. She discovers that while the jobs can be murderous, there aren’t usually dead bodies involved. Abby isn’t expecting crime at her first long term assignment, but when it occurs, she wants to help. Will Homicide Lieutenant Nick Vaughn believe that – or is she his main suspect? Abby soon finds sleuthing has placed her in deadly peril when she finally confronts a merciless killer face-to-face.”

3.           Why did you choose this particular genre?

My favorite reads are mysteries and suspense, so it seemed natural for me to write in the genre. Of course, that didn’t occur until I’d written 6 other novels. I actually write in multiple genres. Besides mysteries, I write romantic comedy, futuristic suspense, and romance. I love the humor and there’s a tinge of that in everything I write.

4.           What was your journey to publication like?

When I began writing some years back, I went through all the steps most beginning authors do…attending seminars and conferences, reading books on writing, pursuing traditional publishers and acquiring an agent. Being the impatient type, after a few years of that, and then developing some health issues, the writing slacked off until, as I said, I began my own home staging business four years ago. I didn’t do any writing during that time, I was too busy. But now I’m back and have decided to pursue self-publishing since I have such a great backlog of previously written novels and I’m continuing to write new ones, of course.

5.           What is a couple of your favorite books and what are you reading now?

Don’t know that I would name specific books…more like authors. I love Dee Henderson’s O’Malley series…one of the best ever. I like Terri Blackstock’s books, Ronie Kendig’s military thrillers, Stephen Bly’s comical westerns…I could go on and on. At the moment, I just started re-reading Donn Taylor’s “Rhapsody in Red,” a unique mystery. I do keep and re-read books I really like.

6.           What are you working on now and can you give us a little peek inside it?

I’ll be publishing a second romantic comedy soon entitled “Kissing Frogs”…one woman’s tale of her adventures on the internet matchmaking highway. I’m currently writing the first book in a new mystery series called “Staged for Murder.” It’s about a home stager who keeps running afoul of crimes. Book 1 is entitled “Murder Outside the Box.” I’m about 2/3 of the way done and hope to publish it this fall. A little blurb about it is:

“Ari Ames is a home stager par excellence. She’s equally good at getting involved with murder. When Ari discovers a dead body in the bushes at a vacant home she’s to stage, it starts her on a pathway of murder, mayhem, and not-so-sweet revenge. Can her faith in God see her through to a perfectly staged outcome – or will her reliance on her own resources put her in more danger than she ever imagined?”

7.           What advice would you give authors who are on their own journey to publication?

You know, there are so many options open to writers today that weren’t present ten years ago such as indie publishing, e-books, etc. But my advice would be…learn the basics of good writing. You can find lots of books by multi-published authors telling you how to write. Go to seminars or conferences as you have opportunity. The more you know, the better your choices will be about how you want to handle publication. And most of all…READ.  Read in your genre and outside it as well. You’ll always learn something, even if it’s what NOT to do.

8.           Do you have any books or websites that have helped you with your writing that you could share with us?

Again, there are so many out there. I’m a member of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and they are a great organization with chapters all over the country. Their website features information about writing and offers connections with some of the best authors today, courses and critiques…a multitude of advantages for all stages of writers. James Scott Bell’s books on writing are excellent, as well.

9.           Is there anything you’d like to tell us we haven’t covered?
Maybe just a word of encouragement to never give up your dream. Even if you take a ‘sabbatical’ of some years, if it’s the dream in your heart, then get back to it when you can. God wouldn’t put it on your mind and in your heart if you weren’t supposed to do something with it.

10.       Please let us know where we can find you on the web.
My author website is: www.dafeatherling.com  I invite folks to visit it and keep up with me. I also have an author page on Facebook where they can follow me as well.

  
 
Deborah has worked as a freelance writer and photographer, since 2001, for the historical magazine “Georgia Backroads.” She has had many articles and photographs published during this time. Her writing is featured in “Tales of the Rails” edited by Olin Jackson. She has also had a showing of her photographs at Floyd Medical Center Art Gallery as well as winning several awards.  Her debut cozy mystery, “Death in Dahlonega" is now available.

She is a current member of the Georgia Writers Association, and a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. She has an established blog, Butterfly Journey, where she reviews Christian Fiction.