Saturday, November 26, 2011

Poetry Corner ~ Calling all POETS

It's POETRY day on Mystery Writers Unite :-)

If you've stumbled upon this page and you like poetry, please check out some of the previous posts for Poetry corner and let your creative spirit loose and post a comment!

Here is my submission this week:

Look at Me

Look at me; I mean really look at me, a penetrating look into the depths of my eyes.
Tell me. What do you see?
If you do not see the wounds within my soul, then you've not looked deep enough.
If you do not see a flesh and blood person that bleeds when they are cut, then you have only scratched the surface.
All of me is in here just waiting for release, a release that I thought I had found so many times before.
The unworthy ones that tried to touch my soul, are they even worth my remembrance?
I doubt it and it doesn't really matter since thy are gone and you are here.
You stand before me filled with such sweet promise and I want to take that plunge but I'm scared and bruised although not yet broken.
Will you be the one?
The first one to really look at me, a penetrating look into the depths of my eyes?


Friday, November 25, 2011

SPECIAL Author Interview ~ David Anderson

Mystery Writers Unite is EXCITED to be supporting the work of David Anderson, author of AN INDECENT DEATH (see below). 

David Anderson was born in Toronto, Ontario, the third child of a Canadian RCAF pilot and an English war bride.

He grew up in Scarborough, Ontario and moved to Simcoe County, about an hour north of Toronto, in 1976. For thirty years he taught in Simcoe County elementary schools, grades one through eight.

He lives in a small town in Simcoe County with his wife and Shetland Sheepdog, Wilson. 

His first book, "An Indecent Death", was published in September, 2011 and won critical acclaim. "A Striking Death" is due out in December, 2011. 

--- Interview 

MWU: Let me start by saying thank you for agreeing to let Mystery Writers Unite interview you. Now on to the good stuff (she says smiling)...aside from the main character in AN INDECENT DEATH,  who is your favorite and why? 

David Anderson: Detective Lori Singh, a young detective of Indian heritage, who assists Detective Sergeant Nicholas Drumm. She is new on the force, a little insecure, and unhappy with the way she is being treated by her superior. Possessed of a brilliant mind, she is trying to find her way in the York Police Services and appear competent but not overly brash. 

MWU: What is one of your favorite chapters or scenes from AN INDECENT DEATH and why is it your favorite? 

David Anderson: I like the first part of the book when the body is found in the woods. I had a lot of fun writing it. This was when I discovered I could write a mystery novel. I enjoyed seeing the scene come to life, the dump scene appearing before my eyes, and visualizing the characters in the clearing. After I wrote this, I knew all I had to do was write another 70,000 words. Easy! 

MWU: Is there a character from AN INDECENT DEATH that you feel like you could explore further and may like to go back to at another time and write about them again? 

David Anderson: I feel that way about most of the characters, actually, except for the minor ones where it wouldn’t be appropriate to use them again. Lori Singh and Nicholas Drumm, his girlfriend Emily, these people haven’t finished talking to me yet. Not by a long shot. 

MWU: How do you “stay in character” when writing? 

David Anderson: I need quiet, and I need no interruptions. When I am writing, I am drawn into the world I have created and the real world disappears. It’s as if I am in a tunnel, being drawn further along. Until I get tired, that is, and I have to stop! 

MWU: Are any of your characters in AN INDECENT DEATH based on you or someone you know? 

David Anderson: As a teacher, I met thousands of people in my career. So, yes, many of the characters are based on people I knew. But only parts of them. The janitor in the story, for example, is asleep with his feet in a sink in one scene. That really happened. Detective Sergeant Nicholas Drumm is a little bit like me, but only a little bit. I don’t have diabetes, but I do have a Sheltie, as Drumm does in the novel. The victim, a seventh grade teacher, is a wanton flirt, but I want to make it clear: I never knew anyone like that! 

MWU: How did you choose the title for AN INDECENT DEATH? Do you decide on it right away or do you let the story brew for a bit and then choose? 

David Anderson: I decided on it right away. And only after making sure no one else had used it. It wouldn’t do to call your book, “Ten Little Indians”, for example. I think I chose well, too, as lots of people have complimented me on the title. 

MWU: If you had less than a minute to tell a perspective reader what they could expect from AN INDECENT DEATH (you are at a trade show and someone has stopped by your booth) what would you tell them? Go…. 

David Anderson: You can expect a good read. The story will carry you along and you will not know “whodunit”. At least, that’s what my readers tell me. You can expect a classic mystery story in the style of Peter Robinson or Louise Penny. It’s about a murder of a sexy teacher in a small community, and the people who solve it. 

MWU: I ask this question to every author I interview. Do you ever experience writer’s block? If so, how do you cope with it? 

David Anderson: No, I don’t, and I suppose I am lucky. Having said that, there are days when the writing doesn’t go well. I usually try to force things along but if that doesn’t work, then I give up and do other tasks. The next day is always better. 

MWU: I always ask a published author what advice he would give to those of us still working away at their first novel, first draft? 

David Anderson: Recognize that there are going to be times when things don’t go well, when you are full of despair and you just want to give up and run away from the whole thing. Figure out what is bothering you and then work out the way you will solve the problem. Do not give up and listen to others’ advice, but in the end, do what you think is right. 

MWU: What have you learned about writing and self-publishing and what advice would you give to someone just entering the self-publishing arena? 

David Anderson: I have learned that writing a novel is the easy part. Even publishing isn’t too hard. However, promoting your work, and getting others to buy it – now, that’s difficult. Fortunately, I have also learned that there is an army of helpful people out there, willing and able to assist you. The world of indie authors is a terrifically supportive one; be sure to join in and collaborate. 

MWU: Is there anything you would like to say to new writers, new readers or current fans of your work? 

David Anderson: New writers: keep going, don’t give up! New readers: thanks for taking a chance on a new author. I hope I have gained a new fan. Current fans: A Striking Death will be out soon! 


"Just the book to sit down with on a rainy afternoon with a cup of hot tea (or toddy). The plot is compelling, the characters are finely-drawn with charming quirks and the sense of place is familiar enough to make the story as unsettling as it is enjoyable to read." 
"I really enjoyed this mystery. It kept me guessing all through the read. Trust me - I usually figure out the mystery before I finish the book. I hope to read more from this author." 

"This is a riveting murder mystery that will keep you guessing to the very end! It's skillfully written, with such plausible characters that you feel these people could be real. The plot is logically developed to a climax that you won't see coming! I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Det. Sgt. Drumm's first case, and look forward to many more." 

When sexy, seventh grade teacher Paula Noonan is found murdered in a nearby park, Detective Sergeant Nicholas Drumm of the York Police Services is called in. 

Drumm's previous experience as an elementary teacher comes in handy when the investigation leads him to Paula's school, and a host of suspects, including the school's creepy janitor, an abusive spouse, the principal, a moody and leering fifth grade teacher and the angry and aggressive father of one of her students. 

If you are a fan of Louise Penny or Peter Robinson, you will love the twists and turns of An Indecent Death!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

SPECIAL Author Interview ~ Paul Dorset (a.k.a. John Cox)

Hi everyone,

Mystery Writers Unite is thrilled to have guest author, Paul Dorset (aka John Cox) with us today.

Paul / John’s writing is as unique as his character and he has published not only titles that appeal to younger readers such as: Fergus Fedderfeeny’s Food Factory and Jai and Jasmine’s Jeopardous Journey (books 1 and 2 of the Gwillville series)but also has published titles for pre-teen, young adult and adult readers, which include: Xannu, The Prophecy and Xannu, The Healing (Books 1 and 2 of the Southern Lands series) and his newest release New Blood, which just hit bookshelves on November 1, 2011.

You’d think he would be exhausted from creating colorful worlds and captivating characters but there is more!! Paul has also published How to Write and Self-publish Your First Novel and The 10 Hour Project Manager, proving that you CAN write more than one type of genre! Last but certainly not least, Paul also has a blog called “Utterances of an Overcrowded Mind” that he posts to on a regular basis. This is one busy, busy, busy man!

Paul has been writing for many years, has had numerous articles published (mostly in the technical field of Computing), lives and works in the Pacific Northwest and is planning to continue releasing several new books through 2012 and beyond.

--- Interview

MWU: Let me start by saying I’m honored you agreed to let me interview you for Mystery Writers Unite. Thank you. Now, for the first burning question…do I refer to you as Paul or John (smiling)? Seriously, I have been to your website so I already know why you decided to publish your work under the pen name “Paul Dorset”; however, for those readers that haven’t had the pleasure, can you share your reasoning for this?

Paul Dorset (aka John Cox): It’s an honor to be interviewed, Becky. You know, it’s a funny thing; the name of my eldest daughter is Becki. Although, as you can see, we spell it with an ‘i.’ Just a little similarity to get you started. But back to the question. As I say on my author website, I made a decision early on in my writing career that I would use a different name to write under than John Cox. In England, where I come from, my name is very common and there are lots of published authors out there named John Cox. I wanted to differentiate myself. I come from a town in England called Poole, which is in the county of Dorset, so it seemed a cool thing at the time to use the name Paul Dorset. It’s kind of stuck to me now!

MWU: As I stated in your introduction today, you have broken through the lines of publishing various genres as opposed to only one genre. Was this an easy thing to do? What were/are the challenges?

Paul Dorset (aka John Cox): This is something I’ve thought about many times. Lots of established authors tell you to stick with one genre, or if you write different genres to use a different name. Me? I guess I believe in being a little different! Actually there is one genre I stick to and that is quite simply to write for ‘younger’ people as much as possible. As a kid I was fascinated by reading and I consumed books by the dozen. But sometimes it was difficult finding something that kept me interested. And that was because so many books seemed to be either aimed at an immature reader or had totally adult themes and didn’t suit younger readers. I try to write age appropriate books that can also be enjoyed by ‘grown-ups’! My genre, if you like, is the developing mind!

MWU: What made you decide to target the youth market? Are their needs / wants different from the adult market (time between releases, writing context, etc.)? If so, in what way(s)?

Paul Dorset (aka John Cox): As I alluded to in my previous answer, I want to encourage the developing mind. I want to give the reader a story that can be read and consumed on many different levels. Of course you have to have a good story, but I want to write books that make my readers think about more than just the story. Let me give you an example. In the first book of my Xannu series, it seems like a pretty straightforward story. Something that a hundred people have written about before. And that’s fine for the first book. Let’s get the reader interested. But as the series progresses, so the questions start to form. What is the series really about? What is it saying about religion, about politics, about friendships? I believe young minds want to process those challenging concepts – sometimes even more than adults!

MWU: I noticed that with the exception of the reference books you have written, all of your other books are “series” books. Was it your intention from the start to write a series or did that need to turn it into a series evolve as you began to write? 

Paul Dorset (aka John Cox): I hate finishing some books, don’t you? If it’s a good book, I never want it to end! But of course it has to. Series are a nice way of making books longer and giving the reader more to chew on; building worlds that are rich and exciting. The types of books I write lend themselves to series. I’m not a horror story writer or a crime story writer. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy reading those kinds of books from time to time, it’s just that they’re not what I want to write.

MWU: If someone had the power to step into your creative mind what would they see and what is a typical day for you?

Paul Dorset (aka John Cox): Scary! My mind is constantly working, thinking about new ideas, projects, books, and a thousand other things! I guess I’m kind of creative in that way! But it’s probably not a mind that anyone would want to step into. They would probably get a headache within a couple of minutes. As for my typical day? Wow! I wish I had one. A lot depends on what I’m doing for a ‘day job.’ I’m currently contracting for a large wireless telecoms company doing some project management stuff and that takes up a significant portion of my day. This means I have to fit in blog posting, Twitter posting, Facebook contacts, marketing of my books, emails replies, review requests, and of course actual book writing, into a few hours a day. There simply aren’t enough hours. This means I go a little crazy sometimes and just ‘chill out’ for a few hours to recharge my batteries. Like I said, you don’t want an adventure inside my mind!

MWU: This is a standard question I always ask and again, I know that you have listed this on your website but for those readers that have not been to your site, what books or authors have influenced your writing?

Paul Dorset (aka John Cox): The interesting thing about this question is did those authors influence my reading, or did they influence my writing? I’m not sure about the answer. Do the two things go together? When I was younger I read C.S. Lewis, John Wyndham, Isaac Asimov, Stephen King. I loved The Hobbit. I loved anything that made me think about possibilities. Now I read Kate Elliott, Robin Hobb, George RR Martin, Jacqueline Carey, and many others besides. I also read as many Indie authors as I can. I try not to read any modern stories that are similar to things I write. I have never read Harry Potter. I have never read Twilight. Should I? I don’t know. I just don’t want to run the risk of derailing my stories from where I want to take them.

MWU: Another question I ask every author I interview. Do you ever experience writer’s block? If so, how do you cope with it?

Paul Dorset (aka John Cox): Not so much writer’s block, but there are some days when I don’t write. I am a planner. I plan my stories out with pretty intricate detail before they ever get written. Of course, there are new ideas that get introduced as well, but on the whole I know where my stories are going. This means that when I write I really know what it is I’m wiring. And as long as I am in my zone, the words come.

MWU: Do you have a favorite character in each of your series, aside from the lead? If so, which one and why?

Paul Dorset (aka John Cox): I love the cheeky, wicked (but not evil) characters in books. Every one of my series has a character I love more than the others. Is that a bad thing? I hope not! In Xannu, it’s Vixxa. In Gwillville, it’s Sophia and in New Blood, it’s Wendy. They’re all women too! I like writing women characters. I believe in writing strong characters of both sexes. I want to write books that everyone can read and enjoy. And after all, we all need a little naughtiness in us, don’t we?

MWU: I always ask a published author what advice he would give to those of us still working away at their first novel, first draft?

Paul Dorset (aka John Cox): How much time do I have to answer this? This is a topic all by itself. There are so many things to learn and to understand as a first time novelist. I have made my mistakes too and continue to make them from time to time! The simplest answer I can give is ‘keep at it and don’t give up.’ The major reason I published my book on writing and self-publishing was to try and help others answer these questions. As an Indie author I believe it is a part of my responsibility to try and encourage and help others to be successful.

MWU: In all the years you’ve been publishing your work, what is the one biggest mistake you made that you could share so others can avoid making it?

Paul Dorset (aka John Cox): The single biggest mistake I made was to think that marketing and sales just happen. They don’t. I wish I had a team of twenty people who worked for free that could market for me. Successful marketing is the biggest challenge any Indie author has today. You’re competing with thousands and thousands of other people. You can have the best novel in the world - and we all have those don’t we? ;-) – but without successful marketing you’ll sell nothing. A sobering reality.

MWU: What is the hardest part about writing for you? How did/do you overcome it?

Paul Dorset (aka John Cox): Sticking at it. I’m tempted to end my response there! An author is someone who has a published book. A writer is someone who writes. Ultimately the choice between the two is yours. I like the feeling I get when I tell others that I am an author! That’s what drives me to keep at it. I have written books that will survive long after I do. That’s something of which I’m very proud.

--- Paul's/John's Books


Southern Lands Series

Gwillville Series

New Release

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

SPECIAL Author Interview ~ Michelle Hughes

Hi everyone :-)
It is another special Wednesday for Mystery Writers Unite because I had the privilege and pleasure of interviewing Michelle Hughes, author of A Night at Tears of Crimson, Volume 1 (see below).
Michelle began her career in the entertainment industry as a singer/songwriter under the stage name Regina Michelle. After years on the road she began her family and turned to writing as a way to combine her love of entertaining with the stability of having a home life. She started out with short stories and fan fiction and then discovered her true niche, writing paranormal romance. She decided to make that her full time career. 
Michelle resides in Rockford Alabama with her husband and five children. New Orleans, the backdrop for the Tears of Crimson series, is one of her favorite travel destinations.
--- Interview
MWU: First, thanks for agreeing to let Mystery Writers Unite interview you! Five kids?!? Wow! You must get asked this a lot but how do you find the time and energy to write? What do they think about mom being a published author?
Michelle Hughes: Thank you so much for having me, it's an honor to be a part of Mystery Writers Unite.  Writing, when you have a household as busy as ours, can be a little chaotic.  During the school year I have eight hours a day to myself so that definitely gives me the quiet time I need to focus.  I honestly have given up on weekend writing unless it's really late at night.  My daughters, who are in high school this year, think it's really “cool” to have a mom writing about things their friends are talking about.  My younger sons, who are four and eight really would rather I never did anything that didn't involve them twenty four hours a day.   My oldest son has been very supportive and even accompanies me on trips to do research.
MWU: How long did it take you to write your first book and now that you have completed one are you finding it easier writing the second? Has anything in your process changed?
Michelle Hughes:  The first book, A Night at Tears of Crimson, took about two years to write.  I honestly had no idea what I was doing.  I had all these ideas in my mind and just started writing them down.  It was more for my own enjoyment than something I wanted to share with the world.  I completed three rewrites before I was finally able to get it formatted correctly.  The second book in the Tears of Crimson series is going much easier.  Having an outline, something I wasn't even aware of when I wrote the first, has definitely given me more structure.  I also chose to work with a co-author for the second book and Sarah's been a huge inspiration on those days when I can't seem to put the words down the way I want them to read.
MWU: If someone approached one of your children or your husband on the street and they asked them what your most interesting writing quirk was, what would they say?
Michelle Hughes: They would probably ask if it only had to be one.  I actually have this strange zone I go into that most people would probably find comical.  Depending on what type of scene my characters are going through I'll choose the music that motivates me in that direction.  Normally I'll have my scented candles lit on the desk because they relax me.  I can't believe I'm admitting this but I have to have a bottle of Crystal light and my snack beside me or I won't even begin.  Once I start writing I usually spend a good two hours, if not more if motivated, and I completely lose myself in my work.  I've often thought I don't write my characters they flow through me.
MWU: What made you decide to begin your writing career with a series rather than a stand-alone book?
Michelle Hughes:  My main characters, Rafe and Cara, have been in my dreams since I was a young teenager.  I'm not sure I decided to write them or the calling was so strong that their story was just pushed out of me.  I can't even imagine writing about a different subject if I'm being completely honest.  The Tears of Crimson series had to come in stages or it just wasn't going to be understood.  Each book is a progression of emotions and depth and in some ways a travel between ages and understanding.  There are so many experiences that have been shared with me in dreams and a series was the only way to bring it out of my mind.
MWU: What books or authors have influenced your writing?
Michelle Hughes:  There have been so many authors that have been influential to my writing that it's hard to only name a few.  I started reading Harlequin Romance novels at eight years old.  I can't remember all the authors from those books, it was the type of service where you received four books a month.  I found the incredible V.C. Andrews later and loved her work.  Anne Rice mesmerized me with her writing as well as JR Ward,  Charlaine Harris and Stephanie Meyers.  Another one of my favorite writers was Amanda Quick (Jayne Ann Krentz).  I remember waiting for each one of her books to come out.
MWU: This is a question I ask every author I interview. Do you ever experience writer’s block? If so, how do you cope with it?
Michelle Hughes:  I have had that horrible block and wondered if this journey into writing was coming to an end.  As you mentioned earlier I started off as a singer/songwriter so that worry always finds the back of my mind.  What if the words just stop coming, or the dreams no longer happen?  To answer your question, I have this overwhelming fear when the writers block comes that I will never find my way back to the words again.  If you haven't come to the conclusion yet that I get a little overly dramatic with most things, I'll just go ahead and let you know that I do. 
MWU: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing and how do you overcome the challenge?
Michelle Hughes: I think the biggest challenge for me is finding the structure to sit down and write instead of getting lost in social media.  I love talking to people so when I'm on services like Twitter it's really hard to pull myself away and focus on the writing.  My husband tells me I should be a talk show host because I can talk more than any person he knows.
MWU: What advice would you give to those writers out there that are still diligently plugging away at trying to finish their first novel (me…lol)?
Michelle Hughes: I would say have patience and let the words flow as they will and then laugh because I have no patience whatsoever.  You can't force the words to come until they are ready.  I know that sounds a little lame, but I think when we write there is some inspiration coming from somewhere.  I could give a whole interview on where I think that is but I'll save that for another time.  Back to your question though, just clear your mind and let the words come.  If they aren't coming then take a step back and come back when you feel the inspiration find you again.
MWU: I noticed a link on your website that says: “Step in to the fantasy world of Tears of Crimson Club”. Tell readers a bit more about this…
Michelle Hughes: The Tears of Crimson club is all about fantasy.  When you read the books I want you to lose yourself in the world.  Thanks to some wonderful friends we also have a roleplay group that plays out the characters from the books.  Prior to finishing the first book I was very involved with the True Blood and Twilight roleplay community.  We actively encourage people to interact with our characters and want them to come to life in a way that make you feel like you are a part of the group.
MWU: Did you learn anything from writing A Night at Tears of Crimson and if so, what?
Michelle Hughes: I think the biggest discovery I made with Tears of Crimson is that there are so many talented people out there more deserving than I am when it comes to writing.  I see the dedication from these incredible authors that are struggling to have their material read and I connect with them.  I will gladly promote any author who comes to me for help because without other people helping me I'm not sure I would have continued down this path.
MWU: What was the hardest part about writing this book?
Michelle Hughes:  What most people don't know is that Cara is actually my dream self.  The hardest part of writing the book was sharing a piece of myself.  Cara came to me during some very hard times in my adolescence as did Rafe.  I won't go into the troubles of my youth, but I will say that Rafe and Cara saved me.  When I didn't want to wake up the next day I had the dreams that would encourage me to make the effort.
MWU: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything about this book?
Michelle Hughes: The only thing I would truly change about the first book is adding more depth.  I had so many ideas in my mind that I couldn't find a way to organize them.  I think that type of organization comes with experience because I'm finding it much easier to fit everything in with the second book.
MWU: Who is your favorite character in this series and why?
Michelle Hughes: That question is the easiest to answer.  My beautiful Rafe, Rafael Santiago.
MWU: I just have to ask, was the character Rafe designed after someone you know?
Michelle Hughes:  I guess the answer to that question depends on how you define knowing someone.  Rafe came to me the summer of my fifteenth year and I dreamed  about him every night for 365 days.  He still visits me in my dreams today and I consider him my closest friend. 
MWU: If you had the chance to be bitten by a vampire and live for all eternity, would you want that “gift”?
Michelle Hughes:  Only if Rafe comes out of my dreams.  I love my life now and couldn't imagine trading it for a life of eternity without my family.  The irony is that this is how every dream I have about Rafe ends.  He holds out his hand and asks if I'm ready to come with him yet.  I've always said no, but I have to wonder what would happen if I ever said yes.
MWU: I know the second book of the Tears of Crimson series, Eternal Crimson, is scheduled to be released in June 2012. Are you on track for this release date?
Michelle Hughes:  Actually I'm ahead of schedule at the moment.  My editor will probably change all of that though.  My process is that I give her three chapters at a time and she edits and tells me what didn't work for her.  I take those three chapters back and work through them and resubmit them for approval.
MWU: I noticed that you have decided to co-author your second book with Sarah Snyder and I wondered if it a) is difficult to “let go” of your “baby” and let someone else help mold it and b) what was the reasoning behind it? 
Michelle Hughes:  With Sarah it's not hard at all.  I thought that would be a big deal for me, letting go of the people that I absolutely adore and entrusting them to another.  The truth is Sarah knows how I feel about Rafe and Cara and focuses more on the supporting characters and that's been how we manage to work so well together.  Now that's not to say if she reads something that doesn't make sense to her she won't call me on it immediately.  I think you're going to find in Eternal Crimson that there are other characters that also take the lead roles and that's all because of Sarah.  She is able to bring Gabe to life in a way that I would never have been able to do.  The main reason I asked Sarah to write with me is because I was so impressed with her original characters. 
MWU: Is there anything you would like to say to your readers?
Michelle Hughes:  I would like to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking a chance on A Night at Tears of Crimson.  It humbles me beyond words to know that there are people that think I'm worth reading.  There are so many people who have encouraged me on this journey, and I've made some incredible friends from fans of my work.  I think that has to be the greatest part about writing, getting to know the people who are reading your work. 
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me.  This interview has really been a joy to do.  I wanted to wish you much luck on your own book and let you know that I'll be here to support you when the time comes for you to publish.
The synopsis for A Night at Tears of Crimson:
Cara Donovan found the Tears of Crimson club by chance but it seems her entire destiny would be found in one night. Rafe has spent hundreds of years taking what he wanted and devouring everything in his path. The demon in him longed to devour her, what was left of his humanity demanded that he protect her. He was a forbidden desire that awoke her passion. She was an innocent temptation that he couldn’t resist. For thousands of years their true nature had been guarded and now he had drawn her into a world that only existed in myths. Her soul, her heart and her life would be forfeit if she surrendered to his touch. Eternal love and eternal damnation, anything is possible at a Night at Tears of Crimson.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

DECEMBER BOOK LAUNCH EVENT: Author Interview ~ John W. Mefford

Mystery Writers Unite is THRILLED to be supporting the work of John W. Mefford, author of the newly released novel COMMITTED; first book in The Michael Doyle Chronicles.
John is a veteran of the corporate wars and former journalist. Although he began wiring his debut novel when he entered the work force twenty-five years ago, he didn’t begin to put words on paper until late 2009.
When John isn’t writing, he chases his three kids around, slaves away in his yard, reads, plays as many sports as time will allow, watches all genres of movies, and continues to make mental notes of people and society.
John lives in Frisco, Texas with his beautiful wife, three adorable kids, and a feisty fat cat.
--- Interview
MWU: Great to be interviewing you again! Being that we’ve talked before, I had to dig a little deeper to come up with great questions…lol. With that, here is the first one – if your wife was approached on the street and was asked what your writing quirk(s) is/are what would she say?
John W. Mefford: First, thanks for having me again, Becky. This kind of feels like a vacation homeJ When I’m in “the zone,” I have a tendency to speak part of the dialogue as I’m typing it…and sometimes I’m even “in character.” Depending on the scene, apparently, it can sound a bit outrageous, especially if it’s not taken in the context of the story. A couple of times early in my first draft I think I scared my wife…she thought I was really losing it.
MWU: If you could be a character in COMMITTED which one would you want to be and why?
John W. Mefford: I look at that question from a couple of different perspectives. If this was the land of make believe, I’d take on the role of Chuck, CEO at Omaha Gas. I’ve always been fascinated by the mindset and scruples of people who climb the ladder to the top rung. Manipulation is one trait that comes to mind. I probably couldn’t take that role any longer than a day. Then, I’d have to change to another character and take a shower.
Like most of us, however, I’d love to be the lead dog, Michael. Usually, good wins out over evil, but it’s not a straight shot. In addition to ending up as the hero, one of the interesting facets of Michael was watching him recognize and overcome a life-long issue. Roll all of that up and you have one pretty cool cat. Actually, midway through writing the book I figured out the actor I’d like to see play Michael when I sell the movie rights – Ben Affleck. I’d even let him direct, as well.
MWU: Did you outline or sketch COMMITTED before you began writing your first draft or did you just go with the flow of the pen?
John W. Mefford: I made a conscious decision before I typed my first word that the only thing I wanted to know was how many words in a MS Word document equated a book page. I knew if I tapped into the endless abyss of the internet before writing my first paragraph, all of my creativity and drive to start, let alone finish, would evaporate.
As I would with any new venture, I started at a high level and documented some rough plot ideas. Then, I created a pseudo-outline. As my thoughts got more granular, I gave myself full immunity from making changes, small or wholesale. Despite my business background that encouraged following a process, I didn’t want to completely box myself in. I think it worked.
MWU: What do you think readers will most enjoy about COMMITTED?
John W. Mefford: I knowingly created a contemporary plot, where nearly everyone could relate to being in a similar situation. Disgust, guilt, passion, desperation, and mere hopelessness are just a few emotions that will resonate with all readers. With such a present-day plot accentuated by so many other twists and turns, I think it’s a book most readers will connect with and finish very quickly. 
MWU: If your main character in COMMITTED could say something to you, what do you think he would say?
John W. Mefford: “You almost killed me! But in the long run I learned what – and who – was indispensable for me to live my life with no regrets. I’ll never forget this opportunity for growth. Thank you.”
MWU: If you had less than a minute to tell a perspective reader what they could expect from COMMITTED (you are at a trade show and someone has stopped by your booth) what would you tell them? Go….
John W. Mefford: Prepare for a story so real, you won’t believe it’s fiction. The story is about sinful deception. A malicious corporate takeover. Murder. Unrelenting greed.
The system of lies is deep-rooted, ingrained in the greedy minds that concocted what appeared to be another distasteful corporate takeover. But this one is different. Beyond the dishonesty, layoffs, and political posturing, their tentacles burrow until they engulf their target, regardless of the damage it causes.
Follow Michael Doyle on a journey to discover what is important – who is important – while he struggles to sift through the fog of corruption and treachery to find a killer. Can one man rise above his greatest fear to uncover the truth about a murder and save the life of the person he loves most?
Only if he’s…COMMITTED.
MWU: If the main character in COMMITTED was stranded on a deserted island and wasn’t going to be rescued for at least one year, what would he need to have with him to make sure he remains sane?
John W. Mefford: Michael would want to have his computer, a case full of cheap red wine, and his life partner, Marisa. They’d have so much fun together they’d probably ask the rescuers to give them another six months on the island!
MWU: How did you develop and differentiate your characters and how do you “stay in character” when you’re writing?
John W. Mefford: When I initially create a character, I try to write from that POV as soon as possible, and include some dialogue. After I sleep and run off to do a million other things, I can go back and read through a few key paragraphs to put me back in the mindset of that character. Many times I read the dialogue out loud. I probably change my facial expression and utter a grunt here or there as I bang out the storyline. After a character makes the first cut, I describe him/her in more detail, which helps me further shape and distinguish each person. All of that is saved in my support document – my little black book. It has all my secrets, the scoop on all the characters, and every twist and turn I’ve ever considered.  
MWU: Who do you see as your “ideal” reader?
John W. Mefford: Anyone who has ever worked for a corporation, ages 20 to 90, could relate to the base plot. For people who have ever been in a real relationship where people are flawed and a fairy doesn’t magically swipe her wand over them to fix everything, would certainly connect with this book. I intentionally wrote the story to appeal to the masses, but on a personal level.
MWU: What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
John W. Mefford: If you’re not living on the edge, you’re probably not living. It wasn’t directed at writing, but I’ve since used the phrase for that purpose. It encourages you to not be afraid to re-evaluate your approach and to challenge yourself on all levels.
MWU: What are your thoughts on the ever-changing publishing industry? What do you see for the future, as a writer?
John W. Mefford: If you look at the history of business, those who profit most from major industry shifts are those who are open-minded and don’t cling to the old way of thinking until their last dying breath. I’ve certainly developed strong opinions related to the world of indie authors and self-publishing. But as I’ve stated previously, I remain open to having my views altered. In fact, they will change as business models are tweaked, new players enter the game, and old players fade away. It’s the circle of life – from a business perspective.
MWU: Is there anything you would like to say to new writers, new readers or current fans of your work? When I worked in the newspaper industry, I fit right at home with a take it or leave it attitude. I knew my work would be loved by some and loathed by others who might have disagreed with my journalistic digging or an opinion in one of my columns.
As a novelist, I write to evoke emotion from every person who reads my book. Readers might connect with different characters or relate to one aspect of the story more than another, but I write so they can enjoy the gift of reading a great story. I truly appreciate them taking their precious time to read my debut story…the first of many.
I always like to ask readers, to what element of the book (including Committed) do they feel a connection?
I really enjoy receiving feedback from readers, whether it’s on my website, FB or Twitter, or through a review on Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Here’s how people can reach me:
Twitter tag: @jwmefford
The synopsis for COMMITTED:
We all have that inner voice, the one who knows all but refuses to let even our closest confidantes inside. The one we must calm when we’re most unsettled, and the one who seeks to understand our path, our destiny.

Michael Doyle lives in emotional anonymity, resistant to fully devote himself to anyone or any cause. Without warning, a technology firm acquires Michael’s company, and he quickly sees through the fog of political posturing: false hope, layoffs, and blatant dishonesty. Then, death reaches up and grabs him.

Shaken to the core, Michael leans on his live-in girlfriend, who has touched his heart like no one else. But her haunting past resurfaces, and she’s pulled into a seedy web by an outside force so cruel it destroys every soul in its path.

Can Michael rise above his greatest fear to uncover the truth about a murder and save the life of the person he loves most? 
Only if he's...COMMITTED.

This post is part of a DECEMBER BOOK LAUNCH EVENT ---->> Join JOHN W. MEFFORD and 9 of his author friends at WoMen's Literary Cafe's Mystery Book Launch, December 13-15. Ten authors will discount their eBooks to just 99 cents. Buy 3 get 1 FREE!

Monday, November 21, 2011

DECEMBER BOOK LAUNCH EVENT: Author Interview ~ Claude Bouchard

Mystery Writers Unite is EXCITED to be supporting the work of Claude Bouchard, author of VIGILANTE, THE CONSULTANT, MIND GAMES, THE HOMELESS KILLER, 6 HOURS 42 MINUTES, and ASYLUM (see below).

Claude was born in Montreal, Canada, where he still resides with his spouse, Joanne as well as the rulers of the household, Krystalle and Midnight, their cats. He completed his studies in human resources, accounting and management at McGill University and worked in various management capacities in the fields of HR and finance for a handful of firms for too many years.

His first stab at writing was in 1995, the result being his first novel, Vigilante. This was subsequently followed by The Consultant (1996), Mind Games (1997), The Homeless Killer (2009) and 6 Hours 42 Minutes (2011) all part of the Barry/McCall Series born from Vigilante. He has recently completed ASYLUM (2011) which is not in the series and is currently working on Discreet Activities, the sixth Barry/McCall crime thriller.

When Claude isn’t writing or editing his work, he spends his time making noise with his guitars, painting in oil and watercolour, reading, traveling (budget permitting) and planning to work out. 

--- Interview 

MWU: Let me start by saying thank you for agreeing to let Mystery Writers Unite interview you. Now on to the good stuff (she says smiling)...aside from the main character in each of your books,  who is your favorite and why? 

Claude Bouchard:  If I may, let me first thank you, Becky, as well as the wonderful people at the Women’s Literary Café for having made this interview possible. As writers, we need all the exposure we can get and I appreciate this opportunity.

Now, we can get down to business. J I’ll run through my books in order and will keep my answers brief since I have six out there. Starting with Vigilante, I’ll nominate Detective Frank Bakes. He’s a rough around the edges kind of guy who has been known to put his foot in his mouth. My pick in The Consultant is easily the cool, calm and smooth Jonathan Addley, head of the clandestine Discreet Activities team. With Mind Games, I vote for someone with a minor role, Lonnie, a man-hungry gay bartender who is somewhat amusing. William A. Enright is a shoo-in for The Homeless Killer for his well cultured arrogance. 6 Hours 42 Minutes just wouldn’t have been the same without Louie ‘Bull’ Pellini, a perfect combination of tough and dumb. And finally, for ASYLUM, my only book not in my crime series, I give equal billing to Stuart and Jennifer Russell for being the kids they are. 

MWU: What is one of your favorite chapters or scenes from each of your books and why is it your favorite? 

Claude Bouchard: An even shorter run of quick snappers, all scenes off the top of my head: 

Vigilante: When Peter Myers gets thrown off the sixth storey balcony because I love the Vigilante’s pre-toss commentary. 

The Consultant: Tough choice due to many great action scenes but I’ll go with when the Mustang goes off Montreal’s elevated Metropolitan Autoroute and crashes to the road below. I can just visualize it. 

Mind Games: This one would be when Detective Frank Bakes is questioning Lonnie, the gay bartender at TJ’s. The conversation between the two is quite entertaining. 

The Homeless Killer: The scene involving Dougie, Bob, the antagonist convenience store customer and the stun gun. I’m saying no more. 

6 Hours 42 Minutes: When Chris Barry makes his presence known in the bank, using a dead robber as a prop. He’s taking a chance but makes it and it’s all believable. 

ASYLUM: This one’s easy. When the angry drunk tries to take Matt on while he’s busy at the urinal. A hilarious visual. 

MWU: Is there a character from any of your books that you feel like you could explore further and may like to go back to at another time and write about them again? 

Claude Bouchard: Generally, I would tend to say no, in the sense that I do have recurring characters in my series who have grown with time. The non-recurring characters were, in most cases, directly related to the specific story at hand and either wouldn’t have any role in a future novel or simply are no longer available. J I can mention that when writing 6 Hours 42 Minutes, I created a minor character, Leslie Robb, or so I thought. It turns out Leslie had a mind of her own, took more room in the latter part of the novel and guaranteed herself an enviable spot in my current WIP, Discreet Activities. 

MWU: How do you “stay in character” when writing? 

Claude Bouchard: Since I create my characters, I guess we could say I am them to some degree. As I’m writing a scene, I can visualize it, I can hear the dialogue. I know these people so I know what they are going to say and how they are going to say it. Perhaps it’s because I worked in the field of human resources for many years and dealt with all types of characters. I got to know them and that kind of knowledge stayed with me so now, when I write, I become whatever character I choose to be and do my stuff. 

MWU: Are any of your characters in your books based on you or someone you know? 

Claude Bouchard: I’ll start by mentioning one of the main characters in my crime series named Chris Barry. One might note his initials happen to be the same as mine, C.B… Coincidence or conspiracy? Let’s just say Chris does some things in his world of fiction which I wouldn’t do in reality. I just help him come up with the ideas. 

MWU: How do you choose the titles for your books? Do you decide on it right away or do you let the story brew for a bit and then choose? 

Claude Bouchard: I’m working on my seventh novel and batting 1,000 so far by typing the title first when I start a new project. I obviously have a vague idea of what any given book will be about before I start writing but I’ve always had the title in mind up front. For example, my next novel, if that’s what I end up writing next, will be The Last Party. I’ve got the title and all I have left to do is write the story. 

MWU: If you had less than a minute to tell a perspective reader what they could expect from your books (you are at a trade show and someone has stopped by your booth) what would you tell them? Go…. 

Claude Bouchard: I write believable, non-exaggerated, entertaining thrillers. My characters are people, not super-heroes. If they get hit, it hurts. When they’re solving a mystery, they don’t depend on fluke or chance. They roll up their sleeves and do the job. My twists are solid, not flimsy and I never pull out an obscure butler at the end to hang the blame on. Based on reviews to date, all of which were written by readers who were once strangers (and not friends or family), everything I’ve just said about my novels is the plain truth. 

MWU: I ask this question to every author I interview. Do you ever experience writer’s block? If so, how do you cope with it? 

Claude Bouchard: I’ve never considered it writer’s block. For me, it a mulling period, a time to ponder, sometimes needed to organize my thoughts in order to offer the best possible tale to my readers. These writing breaks are often perfect occasions to review what’s there to date, start polishing rough spots and do some fine tuning. By the time I get back to where I was when the mulling started, I’m usually good to just keep on writing. 

MWU: I always ask a published author what advice he would give to those of us still working away at their first novel, first draft? 

Claude Bouchard: Write because you love doing it, not because you hope to sell a million copies and make a bundle. Review, edit, correct, modify and polish your work and then do it again. Ask for honest opinions and accept comments as constructive criticism. When writing about things you don’t know, research. If grammar is not your absolute forte, get help with your editing. There is nothing more disappointing for a reader than starting a book to find dismal formatting, poor sentence structure, improper use of punctuation and spelling mistakes. It distracts readers from what they are looking for; your story. One more thing; read. The more you read, the more you learn about various subjects, places, events, people, etc and also it exposes you to how sentences, paragraphs, chapters, dialogue and so on are put together to form a book. Never forget that the day you present your work to an agent, publisher or the public at large, your name will be on it so make it the best it can be before taking that step. 

MWU: What have you learned about writing and self-publishing over the years and what advice would you give to someone just entering the self-publishing arena? 

Claude Bouchard: Insofar as writing goes, I’ve learned and I’m still learning all of what I gave as advice in response to your previous question. In regards to self-publishing, I’ve learned, or might I say, confirmed, what I expected it would be; a lot of hard work. However, there is a satisfaction to being in charge of one’s destiny. I am my company, my employer and my staff. I get to do things my way and get to blame myself if things go wrong. I set my own deadlines, I have absolute say on the final content and covers of my novels and I get to decide on all issues related to pricing, sales and marketing. However, I do repeat, it is a lot of hard work and it requires patience, discipline, organizational and research skills and extremely thick skin. 

MWU: Is there anything you would like to say to new writers, new readers or current fans of your work? 

Claude Bouchard: To new writers, I’ll share some of the wisdom passed on to my siblings and I by our dad when we were growing up. “Decide what you want to be and then strive to be the best at it.” You’ve chosen to be writers. Strive to be the very best writers you possibly can, not just for your readers’ sakes but especially for your own sakes.

To new readers, I’d simply mention that changes in the publishing industry (technological advancements, self-pub, small press, POD, Ebooks) have opened a whole new literary world for you of never before seen works by a multitude of new, unknown authors. Many of these books are available to you for a song and some are as good, and even better, than a number of traditionally published novels out there. Give unknown authors a chance by sampling their wares. After all, consider what you would have read so far in your lives had you only read books by authors you knew…

To my fans… Without you, I’d simply be some guy who writes books. All your kind words, your wonderful reviews and your pestering about when the next book is coming are what allow me to smile and fall asleep at night knowing I’ve succeeded as a writer. Thank you. 

--- Claude Bouchard Books 

ASYLUM - As Managing Director of the Montreal Hospital for the Criminally Insane, Doctor Matthew Russell has always put his professional responsibilities ahead of all else. That is, until he one day realizes he is losing his wife, Cassidy, and his two children, Stuart and Jennifer.

With only his family in mind, Russell takes an adventure-filled, impromptu vacation of indefinite duration, leaving all else behind and stopping at nothing to show how much he cares for his loved ones in an effort to win them back. But, will he succeed… Or, will it prove to be all too late in the end? 

6 Hours 42 Minutes - Though most of them dabbled in a variety of criminal activities, they weren't experienced in this particular field and had never been involved in a job like this before. However, with proper planning, careful organization and the inside information available to them, they were certain that this bank heist would be a piece of cake. Ten minutes, in and out, was all it would take and they'd be sharing 2.5 million dollars. Nothing could go wrong as they had thought of everything... How could they possibly know that a new member of the board was visiting the bank that morning? How could they know that the new board member was Chris Barry? 

The Homeless Killer - Ten years later, Captain Dave McCall and multi-millionaire, turned government operative, Chris Barry join forces with Jonathan Addley, head of the clandestine 'Discreet Activities' in a race to capture 'Allan', a serial killer who has taken it upon himself to permanently rid the city of all variety of street people. 

Mind Games - A string of sex slayings plagues Montreal and has Captain Dave McCall and his Special Homicide Task Force in a frustrated frenzy as they try to bring an end to the vicious butchery. Assisted officially by the noted psychiatrist, Doctor Samuel Bowman and unofficially by his close friend, computer genius and multi-millionaire, Chris Barry, Captain McCall works his way closer and closer to the truth, unaware that they are heading deeper into the core of deadly Mind Games. 

Vigilante - Summer of 96 in Montreal and a killer known as the Vigilante is on a spree, his victims, those who engage in criminal activities. Following 16 murders in 6 months, Lieutenant Dave McCall, head of Montreal's Special Homicide Task Force is without clue or lead until an electronic message is received from the assassin himself. Failure in tracing the origin of the email leads McCall to request the assistance of CSS Inc., a security firm specializing in computer and communication networks and headed by EVP and COO, Chris Barry. As murders and emails continue, the two men join forces to bring the killer to justice. But whose justice will prevail? Theirs, or the Vigilante's? 

The Consultant - WARNING: Do not read this book until you have read Vigilante. Consider yourself warned!!

Murderers, drug lords, biker gangs, kidnappers... None stand a chance against... The Consultant. 

This post is part of a DECEMBER BOOK LAUNCH EVENT ---->> Join CLAUDE BOUCHARD and 9 of his author friends at WoMen's Literary Cafe's Mystery Book Launch, December 13-15. Ten authors will discount their eBooks to just 99 cents. Buy 3 get 1 FREE!