Monday, June 19, 2017

Mary Higgins Clark: Solving a Mystery by Jacqueline Seewald


Solving the mystery behind the longevity of Mary Higgins Clark as a bestselling mystery writer fascinates me. Whether you are a mystery reader or not, I’m certain you’re familiar with her name. Ms. Clark has written 52 published books, quite an accomplishment in itself.

I have met Mary Higgins Clark on three separate occasions. Each time she warmly welcomed her readers, took time to talk to each of us individually, and was genuinely friendly. A great way to build a readership for any author!

I recently read an interesting interview with the author in our Bergen County newspaper—Clark lives in Saddle River, New Jersey. She was asked what inspired her creativity. She answered that at one time she went to trials but is now too well-known to sit in a courtroom. She does, however, follow true crime stories and accounts of current trials; although she doesn’t copy them directly in her writing. At the age of ninety, she is still inquisitive.

When asked how many hours a day she spends writing, Clark responded that she aims for five hours each day. This is telling. If we learn anything from her response it’s that writers need to spend time on their craft, writing and rewriting. Clark says she edits and re-edits her own work constantly.

During the interview, Clark observed that she reads the emails she receives and appreciates that people are nice enough to write and be complimentary. She dictates  responses to her assistant believing that she owes her readers a thank you.

The interviewer asked a very important question: Is there one piece of advice you would give an aspiring writer? Clark’s answer was meaningful: Write. She goes on to explain that would-be writers shouldn’t make excuses not to write. If you really want to write then you have to find the time to do it. She suggests to older people that they write a memoir. Her own is what interests her grandchildren the most.

I admire and respect Mary Higgins Clark because she has created a successful style of mystery writing which strongly appeals to readers. She did not come from a privileged background. Her accomplishments are uniquely her own.

I know several writers who have been influenced by her style and technique. Thinking about it, I would say that my last romantic suspense mystery, THE INHERITANCE, shows her influence.

Your thoughts and comments most welcome.



Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Confusing Titles: Problem for Both Readers and Writers


Recently, I was looking at the selection of large print novels in my local library (yes, I have older eyes and appreciate large print). My gaze lingered on a novel entitled THE GIRL IN THE CASTLE. The title interested me. So I took the book out and read it.

It is a rather long, complex novel, and reminds me of THE THORNBIRDS in many respects--although this is apparently planned as the first in a trilogy. The novel begins in 1900 in West Cork, Ireland, and involves Kitty Deverill, an Anglo-Irish girl who falls in love with Jack O’Leary, a Catholic.
Their star-crossed love story ends in 1925 but will obviously continue in the second book in the series. The novel is engrossing and well-written, has many characters and much Irish history.

When I selected this book at the library, I thought I was choosing a book that was on the bestseller list. After I rechecked the list I discovered the novel I was thinking of was in fact entitled THE WOMEN IN THE CASTLE set during World War II. I have no regrets that I read THE GIRL IN THE CASTLE and will request the other novel at a later time. However, the incident made me think of how confusing titles can be for readers and how difficult they are to choose for authors. And so I decided to share my thoughts.

I believe that a well-chosen title helps to sell a writer’s work. The first impression a book or story creates depends on several factors, one of them being the title. The title will set a certain tone or expectation. Whether an author writes literary work, genre fiction, nonfiction, short stories, poetry, etc., the title should fit the work. If it’s not appropriate, the reader may rightfully feel cheated.

I have a few suggestions for fellow writers that I believe might prove useful:

First suggestion is to do some initial research. For instance, visit Amazon and Google. Check out titles for the kind of work you’re writing to get a sense of what is appropriate.

Second suggestion, go to World Cataloging and type in your title under the keyword heading. See what pops up. If your title is used by many authors many times, you might want to try for something different. Ecclesiastes states that there is nothing new under the sun; however, you can do some variations that are unique. Also, keep in mind that titles are not copyrighted unless there’s a trade mark involved. You can, in fact, have the same title as another author, although if possible, it’s best to distinguish it in some way.

Next suggestion: consider if the chosen title can properly characterizes a theme of your book, story, poem, article via your word choice. Maybe it represents a reoccurring symbol in your book.

Another suggestion: keep your title short if possible. Modern titles are generally brief unless you’re writing an academic dissertation. Otherwise, a few words will suffice. For example, the title of one of my YA novels is STACY’S SONG. Just two words. Appropriate because it’s a coming of age/romance. Enough said.

Last suggestion: Try for a clever use of words which will make your title in some way memorable, interesting, intriguing, and/or provoke curiosity. Example: for the third novel in my Kim Reynolds mystery series I used the title THE TRUTH SLEUTH. Kim is an amateur detective and also an academic librarian. So the title fits the main character. The whimsical bit of rhyming hopefully makes the title stand out. In my romantic short story collection, BEYOND THE BO TREE, I used alliteration.

 Are there any titles that stand out for you? If so, which ones? Why? Comments welcome!


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Guest Blogger Jennifer Lowery

My guest blogger today is author Jennifer Lowery who is here to tell us about her latest novel and offer a book giveaway for today. NY Times & USA Today bestselling author, Jennifer Lowery grew up reading romance novels in the back of her math book and on the bus to school, and never wanted to be anything but a writer. Her summers were spent sitting at the kitchen table with her sisters spinning tales of romance and intrigue and always with a tall glass of ice tea at their side.
Today, Jennifer is living that dream and she couldn’t be happier to share her passion with her readers. She loves everything there is about romance. Her stories feature alpha heroes who meet their match with strong, independent heroines. She believes that happily ever after is only the beginning of her stories. And the road to that happy ending is paved with action, adventure, and romance. As her characters find out when they face danger, overcome fears, and are forced to look deep within themselves to discover love. 
Jennifer lives in Michigan with her husband and two children. When she isn’t writing she enjoys reading and spending time with her family.
  Without further ado, here's Jennifer:

Hi Jacqueline and all you fabulous readers out there *waves* Thank you so much for having me today! I’m super excited to be here! I have a couple giveaways and a free book to offer you so read on to find out how to take advantage of fun, free books!
Ever since I picked up my first Suzanne Brockmann Navy SEAL book I’ve been in love with these tough, incredibly intelligent men. I knew I had to write my own series with my own SEAL team. A SEAL’s Song is the first book in my SEAL Team Alpha series and what an incredible journey it was for both me and my characters! Today, I’m bringing you a special interview with the hero and heroine from A SEAL’s Song. I hope you enjoy meeting Jack and Darci as much as I enjoyed writing them. 
P.S. A SEAL’s Song is FREE on Amazon today May 25 so be sure to grab your free copy HERE!
Did you ever think that your life would end up being in a book?
Jack: Hell, no.
Darci: No, but it’s flattering.
What are your favorite scenes in your book: the action, the dialog or the romance?
Darci: *smiles* The romance. I already know what Jack is going to say.
Jack: *grins* Sorry, hun. The action. And the sex.
*Darci rolls her eyes*
What do you like to do when you are not being actively read somewhere?
Jack: Take my sailboat out deep-sea fishing.
Darci: I’m not much for fishing, that’s Jack’s thing. I’m usually in my studio writing and composing songs. But, when he gets home… *she smiles at Jack who grins back*
Do you like the way the book ended?
Jack and Darci in unison: Yes.
Would you be interested in a sequel, if your writer was so inclined?
Jack: Not if it means putting Darci in more danger.
Darci: Agreed. Although, with Jack at my side, I wouldn’t be as afraid of what Jennifer threw at us. *leans in and whispers* She likes to torment us.
What do you do for a living?
Darci: *laces her fingers through Jacks* Jack is a Navy SEAL and the bravest, strongest man I know. I’m a singer.
What is your most prized possession?
Darci: A Celtic necklace given to me by my grandmother. Had it not been for that necklace, I never would have met Jack.
What do you like most about where you live?
Jack: Darci approved of my house. That’s all that matters to me.
Darci: He lives in this cute gingerbread house on the ocean. I adore it.
What’s your favorite thing to do on a rainy Sunday?
Jack: *grins* Stay in bed.
Darci: *nods* Definitely.
What is your least favorite word?
Darci: Classified.
What sound or noise do you love?
Jack: Sorry, that’s between me and my wife. *an intimate look passes between Jack and Darci*
What other profession would you like to try?
Darci: I’ve considered becoming a music teacher. Jack, he’s right where he was meant to be.
Jack: *nods*
*Read more about Jennifer's books on her website: http://jenniferloweryauthor.com/
Please "like" her Facebook author page! https://www.facebook.com/AuthorJenniferLowery/
Sign up for Jennifer’s Newsletter and get a FREE book: http://jenniferloweryauthor.com/join-my-newsletter/

*For everyone who signs up for my NEWSLETTER you will receive an e-book copy of my short story, Taking Chances ($.99 value) for FREE!

 Thank you for having me today!! I just want to send out a big THANK YOU to all my readers out there! Without you I wouldn’t be here. My wish is to one-day meet each and every one of you so I can personally thank you for your generosity and support! 
All my best, 
Jennifer
 Comments welcome!


Monday, May 22, 2017

Interview with Author Loretta Wheeler plus Giveaway

Loretta Wheeler is my special guest today. She is an author who lives in the South along with her Australian husband, their cat Lil’ Dickens, and their dog, Jack. Both pets are rescued fur-persons who are very much loved. Most of Loretta’s writing is set in southern locales, whether in the thriller or romance genre. She says she writes of southern things because most of her stories speak to her in a southern accent. Something she recognizes easily since her own is so strong.

Question: What is the title and genre of your novel? Why did you select them?
Answer:
The title is, Southern Breezes/The Verandah.  I chose the title because I was looking for something to indicate what the story was about, what tone it set, so Southern Breezes, lets the reader know they’re in the south. And because all the books will be set in Galveston, it’s usually breezy with all the wind from the Gulf. For the subtitle, I chose the vicinity in the series that this particular book relates to most, which is Shelby Alexander’s verandah. There’s a lot of activity going on there, both physically and paranormally.

Question: What inspired this novel? How did it come about?
Answer:
I had never read cozy mysteries until a few years ago. I was ill for a period of time and wanted something that was fun, light and yet had a touch of mystery to it. So I began reading a few cozy mysteries and loved them. I found I woke with a smile on my face each morning after reading them before bed. Then I thought, I wonder if I could write these? I’m normally a darker writer, so people seldom see my humor and lighter side in my work. Then I thought, why not set them in Galveston? It’s not far from me, easy to get to for research, and full of history. And I began. The characters lined up immediately with one addition I didn’t see coming. That was Dusty, a fourth character with a mouth that makes everyone whoop.
And because it’s set in Galveston, the first ghost walked right onto the page...but there’s one more...another one I didn’t see coming and I think if I’ve written it well enough, the reader won’t either. We’ll see.

Question: Could you tell us a little bit about the heroine and/or hero of your novel?
Answer:
Oh, my. You know asking an author if they could tell you anything about any of their work, you better pull up a chair. I’ve begun to think people who don’t write, give us a wide berth at parties! 
Shelby Alexander, the heroine, is a New York Times Bestselling Author. Everything in her life at this moment looks like a story out of a fairytale. Everything’s darn near perfect. She’s just gone through a bad divorce, but come out on the other side with minimal damage. She’s not only had the dream of making the New York Times list come true, but she’s just purchased a portion of the house her Aunt Sookie owned in Galveston. This is where she went every summer, along with her girlfriends, and the place where they all dreamed of living when they grew up. So, that’s her second wish come true.  But fate has a few other things in mind. A gorgeous guy, Boone Dawson, shows up, and Shelby doesn’t do gorgeous. Ever. But he seems like he’s going to become part of her landscape, at least for a time, because he’s just completed the renovations on her house and has a few loose ends to clear up. And along with him, is the town dog named Charmin’. Short for Prince Charmin’, which he’s not. He’s anything but. Both have entered her life with a bang, showing up frequently, and both are concerned about something going on, on her verandah and in the apartment. It’s something they can’t see, but leaves behind the traces of a sensuous fragrance, along with frequently opened verandah doors.

Question: Can you tell us about some of your other published novels or work?
Answer:
I’d love to. Author hat on, remember? Lol   All my work can be
found on my website, www.lorettawheeler.com or on Amazon. 
First of all, there’s the prequel novella to the Southern Breezes series, titled, Christmas on the Strand. It’s also set in Galveston, and introduces you to most of the people in the town, including the clairvoyant Terence Whittaker.  http://tinyurl.com/mrvmosc 
 
Southern Breezes/The Verandah just released and it’s the first novel size book in the series following Christmas on the Strand. This is a cozy, romantic piece with a touch of paranormal. It’s based on an author who returns to Galveston to live, with life looking almost perfect when she does. But her life’s quickly disrupted by an architect, who’s drop dead gorgeous, and who’s accompanied by a scruffy town dog who decides Shelby, the author, is going to be his owner. And quick on their heels comes the eerie sensation that something is inside the house, something that no one can see, but is always accompanied by a sensuous fragrance. https://tinyurl.com/lg7946x
 
Next is Siren’s Call. This short story serves as a bridge between 
Southern Breezes/The Verandah, and the next book in the series, 
which I’m currently working on. Siren’s Call is highly sensual, 
so a bit more spicy than the other works. This is the story of 
Michael, a secondary character in the Southern Breezes series. 
And it explains why he is obsessed with sculpting one particular 
mermaid, over and over again. https://tinyurl.com/km9ds8r
 Then I have a novella size book, titled The Pan Man
It’s a YA Paranormal, set in California, and is the story of a young girl, heading off to college, who has a recurring dream of Pan calling to her. She eventually sees a gypsy at the local fair, who informs her the dream has great significance. This was my first YA and placed in a contest on Long and Short Reviews. goo.gl/lR2oiJ 
Mischief and Mayhem is a novella in which an author is being stalked by a killer and has chosen to live outside of town with her two cats near a derelict amusement park, rather than stay so visible in town. The cats, Mischief and Mayhem, are on high alert, and wind up coming to the author’s aid...although it costs them at least one of their nine lives. Not to worry though, even though one of the cats carries a singed smell now, they still have eight kick-ass lives remaining. http://tinyurl.com/hd8pst3
Dark Pleasures is a short story, originally published in a suspense anthology. It’s based on a serial killer in Houston who’s set his sights on a criminal psychologist who’s been assigned to his case. This anthology placed number one (#1) on Preditors and Editors. http://tinyurl.com/gr4w2cu
A Butterbean Named “A” is a children’s story that I wrote many years ago and finally published. It’s about a little girl who finds a butterbean and along with her grandmother, plants it near the fence line alongside a very talkative climbing rose bush.  https://tinyurl.com/jgkh3jp

Question: What are you working on now?
Answer:
 A couple of things. First, the second book in the series, Southern Breezes/The Siren’s Shop, and a couple of short stories that keep dancing through my head. Literally. There’s a strong dance scene that sets the mood.

Question: What made you start writing?
Answer:
I’m not your typical author. I started late in the game. I had written a few pieces when I was in high school, but did follow that path. I was more inclined toward commercial art at the time. It was much later that I found I wanted to write. I had posted an online story and allowed others to participate, and found I had so many comments about my writing, that I decided to write it formally. I already had the outline and had been writing the piece when I opened it up online, allowing others to create their own characters, but I wanted to go back to my original story and write it. That’s how I began. When I moved back to the United States from Australia, I had a request for one of my short stories to go into an anthology. I submitted it and they immediately took it.  That story was Dark Pleasures, which is now a standalone short story available on Amazon. From there, I just kept writing, having some of my work place in contests, some be published, and others released as Indie.

Question: What advice would you offer to those who are currently writing novels?
Answer:
Keep writing. Don’t worry about it if you hit a wall, or if your receive rejections. Keep writing. Find critique partners that work well with you, ones who are drawn to your writing voice and who are knowledgeable. And this next piece of advice is just my opinion; I know others who feel differently. If you need a break, take it. Some of your most well-known authors take them. It lets your Muse wander. Trust me, the Muse will always return, and never arrive empty handed. Mine always comes with even more plots and ideas. I guess that’s why I’m drawn to short stories and novellas, because my Muse lays so many tales at my feet after a vacation. There’s no way they can all be novel size.

Question: Where and when will readers be able to obtain your novel?
Answer:
Southern Breezes/The Verandah is already available and can be found here, on Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/lg7946x  All of my work is on Amazon or my website: www.lorettawheeler.com
And the trailer for Southern Breezes/The Verandah, can be found, here: https://youtu.be/e7F4W2U_NIs

*I want to mention that I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing Christmas on the Strand and can highly recommend it.

Loretta is offering one free Kindle e-book copy to one person who comments. Please leave an e-mail address for contact if interested.

Comments and questions for Loretta are welcome here!

Monday, April 24, 2017

How to Create a Memoir


We can and should all be writers. Leaving behind the story of our lives is something that many friends and relatives will value and cherish. So how do you go about writing a memoir?

Diary:

One way is to keep a diary of daily occurrences, thoughts and reflections. For some, this may prove too demanding. There is a viable alternative.


Journal Writing:

When I taught creative writing, one of the course requirements for students was to keep a journal. I feel it’s an excellent source of inspiration as well as a resource for writers of all kinds.

What exactly is a journal?  It’s a record, an entry-book, kept regularly, though maybe not everyday. These entries are dated and honest. We can use journals to describe things, increasing our powers of observation. For example, we can describe places: houses, sidewalks, backyards and streets, cities. Consider your journal as a travelogue. Describe people, interesting or unusual, the ordinary too. Use your five senses for these descriptions.

Jot down snatches of conversation. Think of your journal as a treasure trove or jewel box in which to place gems (quotes, pithy ideas, epigrams, insights, puns, nutshell wisdom). Write a little; think a lot.

Consider your journal as a laboratory for experiment. View your journal as a new wardrobe.  Try on different styles. See what suits you, what fits and what doesn't. Think of your journal as a psychoanalyst's couch or a confessional. Explore your depths, dreams, fantasies, truths, sins. Regard your journal as a tape recorder attached to your brain. Record your thought associations, stream-of-consciousness.  Consider your journal as a confidante.  Much of your journal can provide fine raw material for future writing.

When I was teaching English at the high school level, I wrote in my journal regularly. A lot of those thoughts, comments, and description came into play when I wrote THE TRUTH SLEUTH which is set primarily in a high school. Many readers have commented that this mystery novel has the ring of veracity about it--not surprising since the book is in many ways the real deal.

Memoirs are different from autobiographies in that they don’t cover an entire lifetime. A memoir is about a particular part of a life, and therefore limited. Like a fiction story, it has a beginning, middle, and end. The difference is that it’s a true story. Publications like Chicken Soup favor memoir articles that have dialogue and read like short stories. Also, they are always written in the first person. I’ve had a number of pieces published in Chicken Soup anthologies and been pleased with the results.

You don't have to be famous to write an autobiography, biographical fiction, play or a memoir. However, many well-known writers have used their memories effectively in their writing. Some examples are:

JAMES JOYCE--A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN

TRUMAN CAPOTE--A CHRISTMAS MEMORY

EUGENE O'NEILL--LONG DAY'S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT

Writing Brief Nonfiction Articles:

Ask yourself questions that you believe descendants (children, grandchildren, etc.) would ask and would be interested in knowing about you. Answer these questions as completely as possible in written form and you have information for writing a memoir.
Sample Questions:
What was your childhood like? Your first memory? Your worst memory? Your best memory?
Tell About Your Schooling.
How did you and your spouse meet?
What did you do for entertainment?
How did you celebrate the holidays?
What did you do for work?
Tell about some humorous situations that happened to you.
Collect these brief articles together in a chronology. You now have the start of a memoir and possibly an autobiography.

Here are just a few of the many publications interested in personal memoir articles:

CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL
READERS DIGEST
AARP BULLETIN
CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR
AGNI
GOOD OLD DAYS
MEMOIR
NOSTALGIA
PLOUGHSHARES
WOMEN OF DISTINCTION

One of the things to decide in advance is how explicit you want to be in your writing. Will what you are going to write be hurtful to other people? Try to avoid negativity.

In addition, just because you’re writing nonfiction doesn’t give you a pass to write something dull and boring. Keep your writing style lively and interesting if you don’t want to loose your readers. Even family members appreciate a bit of humor or wit.

Also, is there a message you want readers to take away from your personal memoir? Is there some idea or thought you want to share with them?

Most recently, I had an article published in THE BOOK OF HOPE: THIRTY-ONE TRUE STORIES FROM REAL PEOPLE WHO DIDN’T GIVE UP edited by Krysta Gibson. The piece I wrote was one I would like my family to read. I can recommend this book to readers. It’s a series of inspiring memoirs connected thematically.


Give memoir writing a shot. You don’t need to be rich or famous to have something worth saying and sharing.


Your comments most welcome!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Interview with Author Patricia Gligor by Jacqueline Seewald

I have the pleasure of interviewing author Patricia Gligor who is a Cincinnati native. She enjoys reading mystery/suspense novels, touring and photographing old houses and traveling. She has worked as an administrative assistant, the sole proprietor of a resume writing service and the manager of a sporting goods department but her passion has always been writing fiction.

Question: What is the title and genre of your most recent novel?  Why did you select them?

Answer: Marnie Malone is my fifth Malone mystery. The genre is mystery/suspense. I selected the title because Marnie plays an important role in two of the first four books in the series and I decided she deserved a book (and a title) of her own.


Question:   What inspired this novel? How did it come about?

Answer: This book will be the last Malone mystery (at least for now) and there were unresolved issues in the series that needed to be addressed. Although each book may be read as a standalone and closes with what I hope is a satisfactory ending, I wanted to tie up all loose ends.

Question:  Could you tell us a little bit about the heroine and/or hero of your novel?

Answer:  Marnie Malone is the older sister of Ann Malone Kern, the main character in the first four Malone mysteries. Like Ann, Marnie was born and raised in Cincinnati but, ever since she was a little girl, she dreamed of living near the ocean. After completing law school, she moved to South Carolina where she could be close to the water. She’s a very independent woman who relies almost solely on her own ability to take care of herself. But, as she discovers in this book, that can be a blessing and a curse.

Question:   Can you tell us about some of your other published novels or work?

Answer:  The first three Malone mysteries take place in Cincinnati. In Mixed Messages and Unfinished Business, there’s a serial killer on the loose in Ann’s neighborhood and, in Desperate Deeds, Ann’s young son goes missing.
The last two novels are set in South Carolina. In Mistaken Identity, Ann discovers the body of a young woman on the beach and, determined to find the killer, she enlists the help of Marnie and their friend, Clara. That brings us to Marnie Malone.

Question:   What are you working on now?

Answer:  I’m in the process of writing a standalone suspense novel told in the first person. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time and, as with my Malone mystery series, I’m having a lot of fun writing it.

Question:   What made you start writing?

Answer: Actually, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write. I think for many of us it’s something we’re born with – the need to express ourselves through the written word.

I wrote short stories and short shorts for years. I always wanted to write a novel but the thought of writing 70,000 to 80,000 words intimidated me. Thanks to the encouragement from family and friends, I finally “bit the bullet” and I’m so glad I did.

Question:   What advice would you offer to those who are currently writing novels?

Answer: I would advise them to create a blog and actively participate in social media before they send their manuscript out. It’s crucial that they get their name out there because the first thing publishers and agents will do is Google their name. If they come up blank, even The Great American Novel will most probably go unnoticed – and unpublished.

Question:  Where and when will readers be able to obtain your novel?

Answer: My books may be ordered through local book stores and they’re available online at:
Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/8sd2cz4

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/Patricia+Gligor/_/N-8qa?_requestid=305533

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/search?Query=Patricia%20Gligor&ac.morein=true&ac.title=Patricia%20Gligor

Note to readers: I would like to mention that I just finished reading and reviewing Patricia’s new novel. I found it gripping and recommend it to mystery/suspense readers.


Questions or comments for Patricia are welcome here!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Reading Keeps Us Healthy by Jacqueline Seewald

It turns out that reading a book may not just be an activity that we readers do for E and E (escape and/or enjoyment). Reading is actually good for our health, our mental and physical well-being.


In the November 7, 2016 issue of Time Magazine, Sarah Begley wrote an article entitled “Read a novel: it’s just what the doctor ordered.” She observes that it’s long been known  reading boosts vocabulary, sharpens our reason and expands “intellectual horizons.” However, scientists are looking to explain how fiction improves mental health.

Bibliotherapists believe that fiction can be used to change lives on a profound level. This is more art than science. The scientific evidence behind reading for mental health is limited, but researchers are continuing to explore the benefits and possibilities. Reading an uplifting romance novel, for instance, might not be a cure for depression, but can make you feel happier--which contributes to mental health and inner peace.

Kirsten Salyer wrote an interesting article entitled “It’s a mean, sometimes sad world—but reading can help.” This appeared in Time’s December 12, 2016 issue. The author notes that children’s books can help youngsters deal with anxiety, fear, and life’s problems of personal trauma and grief. She provides examples of books which offer young readers relatable characters who deal with hardships and sorrows in positive ways and guide children in facing their own struggles with resilience and hope.

So if you’re feeling depressed or just plain bored with the everyday hum-drum of life, try reading a book (preferably one of mine since I believe in happy endings). You’ll feel better.

Recommend a book to a friend as well. Nothing beats a shared experience. I prefer to read romance, mystery, or  novels that combines both attributes. However, there are many varied good choices.


Thoughts and comments most welcome!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Interview with Author Christine Verstraete by Jacqueline Seewald

Christine (C.A.) Verstraete is the author I am interviewing today. Find out about her and the unique novels she writes here.

 Question: What is the title and genre of your novel?  Why did you select them?

Answer:  Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter is a mash-up of alternate history, mystery, horror and real life crime, based on the actual Borden murders and trial. It actually started out as Zombie Killer, but the publisher suggested the change as it seemed to work better. I got hooked on zombies and the stories by watching The Walking Dead.



Question:   What inspired this novel? How did it come about?

Answer: I always found historical crimes like Jack the Ripper and the Borden murders interesting because of the mystery behind them. Looking at the actual autopsy records and reports for the Borden murders, I realized another plausible reason could be made as to why Lizzie Borden could have committed such an awful crime. Since the victims had been hit in the head, it made perfect sense that she’d committed the murders because they’d turned into zombies.

Question:  Could you tell us a little bit about the heroine and/or hero of your novel?

Answer:  To me, Lizzie Borden’s character reflects the things she faces – strength in facing and doing the unthinkable, fear that her life may end if she’s found guilty of her father and stepmother’s murders, a bit of recklessness and flaunting of conventions (after all she’s facing the gallows), and a vow to protect her sister and fight for her town, even as she’s mostly rejected by society. Takes a strong person to do that, I’d say.


Question:   Can you tell us about some of your other published novels or work?

Answer:  I also wrote a young adult novel, GIRL Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombie, which tells the story of what happens when 16-year-old Becca is accidentally scratched and turns into a part-zombie. I’ve also written a kid’s mystery and books on dollhouse miniatures since I’m a collector.



Question:   What are you working on now?

Answer: I’ve been working on a ghost-haunted story novella also set in Lizzie’s hometown and centered on her doctor and neighbor, Dr. Seabury Bowen.  I also started Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter 2, which continues the story. It’s been fun writing about Lizzie again!

Question:   What made you start writing?

Answer:  I wanted to write since I can remember, and it seems I was destined judging from one of my baby pictures showing me with a newspaper and a pencil behind my ear. I still write for newspapers as well.

Question:   What advice would you offer to those who are currently writing novels?

Answer:  It can be a long haul from writing to seeing a book in print, but it’s worth the effort to see your vision come to life. It is an exhilarating, frustrating, fun, horrible journey at times. But that’s the writing cycle. It has its ups and downs.

Question:  Where and when will readers be able to obtain your novel?

Answer:  

Amazon (Print, Kindle and Kindle Unlimited): http://getbook.at/LizzieBordenZombieHunter
Barnes & Noble (Print): http://tinyurl.com/hz6c8cz

About Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter:

Every family has its secrets...
   One hot August morning in 1892, Lizzie Borden picked up an axe and murdered her father and stepmother. Newspapers claim she did it for the oldest of reasons: family conflicts, jealousy and greed. But what if her parents were already dead? What if Lizzie slaughtered them because they’d become… zombies?
   Thrust into a horrific world where the walking dead are part of a shocking conspiracy to infect not only Fall River, Massachusetts, but also the world beyond, Lizzie battles to protect her sister, Emma, and her hometown from nightmarish ghouls and the evil forces controlling them.

Questions and comments for Christine are welcome here!





Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Interview with Author Judy Penz Sheluk

I'm celebrating Valentine's Day and Mystery Thriller Week with a special interview. Fellow author Judy Penz Sheluk is my guest today in the writer’s spotlight.


Question: What is the title and genre of your novel?  Why did you select them?

Answer: Skeletons in the Attic is an amateur sleuth mystery, but it is suspenseful rather than cozy. It is the first book in my Marketville Mystery series, and was published by Imajin Books in August 2016. As a reader, my go-to genre is mystery and suspense. I remember reading Learning to Swim and A Cold and Lonely Place by Sara J. Henry and thinking, “I’d like to write a book like that.”

Question:   What inspired this novel? How did it come about?

Answer: The idea for Skeletons in the Attic came to me while I waited with my husband, Mike, in our lawyer's office. We were there to update our wills, and his goldendoodle kept us company while our lawyer was detained at court. The opening scenes of this book are culled directly from that experience. Let that be your takeaway from this: everything that happens in a writer's life may end up in one of their stories.

Question:  Could you tell us a little bit about the heroine of your novel?

Answer:  Calamity (Callie) Barnstable is a thirty-six-year-old single woman with “loser radar” when it comes to men. Her job as a call center worker at a bank’s fraud unit sounds a lot more exciting than it is (all the interesting stuff gets bumped up to her supervisor). When her father dies in an “unfortunate occupational accident,” she inherits a house that she had no idea existed—with the condition that she find out who murdered her mother thirty years before. A mother Callie assumed had left them for “the milkman or some other male equivalent.”

Here’s a Valentine’s Day Treat—sorry not candy or flowers—instead an excerpt from the novel:

For Callie Barnstable, the protagonist in Skeletons, Valentine’s Day 
has a special meaning. And not in a good way:
 
I was right. The pictures had been taken the year before my mother
 left. February 14, 1986, the date forever etched in my mind. Years 
later, when a boyfriend dumped me on Valentine’s Day, my father 
lamented that I’d fallen victim to the Barnstable curse. What I’d 
fallen victim to, I’d told him, was another classic example of my 
loser radar, a combination of poor judgment and lack of insight. 
I didn’t tell him that I’d actually been expecting a ring, or that I’d 
spent hours picking out just the right Valentine’s Day card, an 
adorable image of two porcupines kissing, with the message, 
“I love you so much it hurts.” It had hurt all right, just not the way 
I’d expected. 
  
Question:   Can you tell us about some of your other published novels or work?

Answer:  I’d love to. The Hanged Man’s Noose was my debut novel, published by Barking Rain Press in July 2015. It’s the first book in the Glass Dolphin mystery series. The premise for Noose is this: A greedy real estate developer comes to a small town with plans to build a mega-box store, thereby threatening the livelihoods of the independent merchants on the town’s Main Street. This is something we see all the time, in growing communities. I merely took that premise and said, “What if someone was willing to murder over it?”


I’ve also written some short crime fiction, which can be found in various anthologies, all available on Amazon. I love writing short fiction, but I find it incredibly challenging. It’s almost easier to write a novel!

Question:   What are you working on now?

Answer:  The sequel to Noose, the sequel to Skeletons, and a couple of short stories.

Question:   What made you start writing?

Answer: I’ve always wanted to write. As a kid, I wrote stories in my head, on the way to school and back again. I thought all kids did that@ In 2003, I left the corporate world to try life as a freelance writer. I’ve never looked back. In late 2011, after taking some courses in Creative Writing, I decided to start The Hanged Man’s Noose. It was an instant addiction.

Question:   What advice would you offer to those who are currently writing novels?

Answer: I always answer this question the same way, with a quote from the late, great Agatha Christie. “There was a moment when I changed from an amateur to a professional. I assumed the burden of a profession, which is to write even when you don't want to, don't much like what you're writing, and aren't writing particularly well.”

Question:  Where and when will readers be able to obtain your novel?

Answer: Noose is available in print and e-book at all the usual suspects, including B&N, Kobo, Amazon and Kindle. Skeletons, which is print and Kindle only, is also available on Kindle Unlimited.

Judy welcomes comments and questions.