It is my great pleasure to have THREE authors here today–Maggie King, Kristin Kisska, and Heather Weidner. They’re here to discuss their stories in the newly-released anthology 50 Shades of Cabernet. This book, perhaps more than any other I’ve discussed on my blog, fits in perfectly with the theme of my blog which, besides reading and writing, is wine!
I should apologize in advance that some of the links below have to be copied and pasted into another browser for them to work. I tried two dozen times to get the links to work for this post, and unfortunately not all of them do.
Let’s get started. Here’s how it’s going to work: the authors, arranged alphabetically, will each provide an answer to my questions.
How does an author get invited to participate in an anthology?
Maggie: I have stories in the Virginia is for Mysteries and Virginia is for Mysteries Vol. II anthologies. They were collaborations with two Sisters in Crime chapters: Central Virginia and Mystery by the Sea (Virginia Beach). Participation was open to all chapter members.
Teresa Inge and Jayne Ormerod, editors for 50 Shades of Cabernet, honored me with an invitation to submit a story. I had worked with Teresa and Jayne on the Virginia is for Mysteries projects.
Kristin: Authors can contribute to anthologies in many different ways. Some are contests which have calls for open submission, while others are through writing groups (Sisters in Crime has many local chapters which publish mystery anthologies). In the case of 50 Shades of Cabernet, I was personally invited to contribute by the organizers of the anthology.
Heather: Each anthology has its own criteria for submitting stories. For 50 Shades of Cabernet, the organizers, Teresa Inge and Jayne Ormerod, invited short story authors to participate.
Tell us about some of the other short stories you’ve written.
“A Not So Genteel Murder”, Virginia is for Mysteries:
A birthday party at Richmond’s historic Kent-Valentine House sets the scene for this tale of betrayal, loss, and the power of family ties.
After two years, Sharon Taylor is still reeling from the deaths of her husband and daughter, but she drags herself to her friend’s party. Divorcee Olivia Thompson has her eye on Sherwood Aimsley as her new husband and is devastated when he shows up at the party with a statuesque beauty on his arm.
Sharon and Olivia keep each other company while their happier friends whoop it up and spread cheer. Until truth and illusion collide … and the evening ends in tragedy.
“Reunion in Shockoe Slip”, Virginia is for Mysteries II:
One day bestselling author Nancy McGregor and Internet security expert Roger Rucker meet by chance in Richmond, Virginia’s historic Shockoe Slip. Thirty years before they were lovers in sunny Southern California. Their reunion sets off a series of memories and events that change their lives forever.
Kristin: All of my short stories have been loosely connected to the mystery genre.
“The Sevens” was a fictional origin tale of a very real secret society at the University of Virginia and included a murder.
“A Colonial Grave” is a contemporary mystery in which a William and Mary architecture student stumbles on the bones of a cold case murder at a dig in Colonial Williamsburg.
“Wine and Prejudice” is a flirty little bling-heist set in the Historic District of Savannah.
Finally, “To the Moon and Back” is a dark psychological suspense story in which a mother goes to extreme lengths to save her daughter.
In “Washed up” in Virginia is for Mysteries, a suitcase with a rusty gun and shriveled hand appears on the beach outside of a struggling bar near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel in Virginia Beach. A friend of the bar’s owner seems to know where it came from, and he gains instant celebrity with his story about a paranormal experience. The attention does wonders for the bar’s profits until something ordinary provides the missing piece of the puzzle.
In “Spring Cleaning” in Virginia is for Mysteries II, medical records manager Douglas Weimer gets more than he bargained for when he’s moved onto a new team and receives a project with a drop-dead delivery date. His assignment in Roanoke, Virginia, gives new meaning to work deadlines.
Where can we find your other short stories?
Maggie: Wherever fine books are sold: in brick-and-mortar stores or on Amazon (print and e-book):
Virginia is for Mysteries: http://amzn.to/2oNlcdQ
Virginia is for Mysteries II: http://amzn.to/2qfTXsT
Kristin: The anthologies are available in ebook (Kindle & Nook) and paperback versions via Barnes & Noble and Amazon. Below are links:
“The Sevens” in Murder Under The Oaks
A Colonial Grave” Virginia is for Mysteries: Volume II
“Wine and Prejudice” 50 Shades of Cabernet
“To the Moon and Back” Day of the Dark (available July 2017)
Heather: I’ve written short stories for Virginia is for Mysteries and Virginia is for Mysteries Volume II.
Do you also submit stories to magazines and literary journals?
Maggie: So far, no. That’s part of my long range plan.
Kristin: No, I haven’t. Yet.
Heather: No. I haven’t submitted stories to magazines and journals yet. I’m working on two different mystery novels at the moment.
If you also write novels, do you write short stories in the same genre as your novels or do you prefer to branch out?
Maggie: I do write novels and they’re very different from my short stories. My novels are traditional mysteries with a crime and an investigation; the killer, or killers, are nabbed in the end and justice is served.
My short stories are morally ambiguous. Justice is served, kind of, but not in the conventional way. I can’t say more—you must read them!
Kristin: Yes. Both my novels, neither of which are currently published, are contemporary suspense, a subgenre of mystery.
Heather: Yes, all my short stories and novels are mysteries. They tend to be traditional mysteries. My Delanie Fitzgerald mysteries have a female private investigator, and I’m working on a cozy series set near Charlottesville, Virginia.
How long have you been writing short stories?
Maggie: Since 2012.
Kristin: I started writing short stories in 2015 after I’d penned my first novel. My local chapter of Sisters in Crime was gearing up to publish a sequel anthology to their first successful one, Virginia is for Mysteries. I wrote two stories, but the chapter had such a large response, they could only accept one story from each author. I submitted my second story to Bouchercon’s Murder Under the Oaks anthology contest, and I won.
Heather: I’ve been writing short stories since the early 1980s (7th grade). I wrote and illustrated a mystery about a dog who was a detective.
How did the theme for 50 Shades of Cabernet come about?
Maggie: Teresa Inge and Jayne Ormerod were relaxing at their favorite wine bar, contemplating their next anthology project. As they sipped their Cabernet, they looked at each other and exclaimed in unison, “Cabernet! Wine-themed mysteries!”
They never would say how the 50 Shades came into play. Maybe they didn’t want to admit to reading the steamy bestseller, 50 Shades of Grey? Or did they decide that a send-up of a popular title that is now part of the lexicon was a smart marketing ploy? Whatever their thought process, I think it was inspired.
Kristin: I was never told how our organizers for the anthology were inspired, but I assume there was a lot of wine involved.
That said, my short story, “Wine and Prejudice” was inspired by a recent trip to Savannah. The fountain, the ancient oak trees dripping with Spanish moss, the park squares, and even the old cotton warehouses along the river all created an enchanting setting for a short story.
My story is: When a bride-to-be’s diamond bracelet goes missing, only wine and time and reveal the true thief.
Heather: Mysteries pair well with a variety of wines. It’s a fun theme. And we held several of our anthology planning meetings at local wineries.
What do you think is harder—writing short stories or writing novels? Which do you prefer?
Maggie: I love writing both, but writing novels is harder. Aside from the length, novelists are expected to conform to exacting standards for plot, characterization, and writing style. With short fiction, an author is freer to experiment. An agent is not required. Still, the writing must be concise and top notch. If I had to choose (thankfully, I don’t) I’d devote my writing to short stories.
Kristin: In general, I prefer writing novels because I have more pages and time to develop characters. However, with short stories, I’ve been able to experiment with structure and storytelling techniques. It’s also lovely to go from story idea to seeing my work in print in less than a year, which is an extremely short timeline in the publishing world.
Heather: I like writing both. I get to experiment more with themes, plot lines, and characterization in short stories. But I think short stories are harder to write because they are more compact, and every word counts. Many journals and anthologies have word limits, and you have to be able to have all of the elements of a mystery in just a few pages.
Tell us about yourselves personally. Where are you from, what jobs have you held in the past, and what do you love most about writing?
Maggie: I’m from New Jersey and have lived in Massachusetts and California. These days I call Richmond, Virginia home.
I started my career as a retail sales manager and customer service supervisor before taking on my longest stint as a software developer. In 1999 I took a break from IT. I’m still on that break! For a time I had a computer training business, did web design, worked and volunteered for non-profits.
What I love most about writing is creating great, but ordinary characters and putting them in extraordinary situations to test their mettle. I get much satisfaction from seeing justice served in an unjust world—even if it’s just make-believe. I also love mining my past experiences and people I’ve known for story ideas. I don’t expect the well to dry up anytime soon.
Kristin: I live in Richmond, Virginia with my husband and three children. I own a marketing company and write whenever I can carve out a spare half hour. That’s a tall order, some days! I like to call myself an MBA-turned-fictionista because my first love was working on Wall Street as a financial analyst and a corporate banker.
I didn’t aspire to write anything more than a Facebook post or corporate memo, but one day I was inspired by an idea for a novel that I just couldn’t shake. A week later, I had a detailed eight-page outline of the plot and started writing. That was nine years ago, and I’ve been writing fiction ever since.
I love that my writing is about being a conduit for transcribing the creative ideas that ignite in my brain. Nothing makes me happier than when my characters take over and write the story themselves. I’m only along for the ride (and the typing).
Heather: I am a member of Sisters in Crime – Central Virginia, Guppies, Lethal Ladies Write, and James River Writers. Secret Lives and Private Eyes is my debut novel.
Originally from Virginia Beach, I have been a mystery fan since Scooby Doo and Nancy Drew. I live in Central Virginia with my husband and a pair of crazy Jack Russell terriers.
I earned my BA in English from Virginia Wesleyan College and my MA in American literature from the University of Richmond. Through the years, I have been a technical writer, editor, college professor, software tester, and IT manager.
The thing that I love most about writing is the whole process. I love to research, plot stories, write, and revise. It’s a chance to create another world and a variety of people/characters.
Do you find it easier to promote an anthology rather than a novel? Why?
Maggie: In some ways, yes. Anthologies generate exposure for the participating authors. Coordinating promotion efforts among the contributing authors can amplify the effects, making it an effective strategy.
However, while anthologies have gained in prestige in recent years, they still take a back seat to novels.
Kristin: Neither of my novels is published yet, so I don’t have much to compare from personal experience. Logically though, I believe that sharing the energy, fan bases, and resources of nineteen authors to promote an anthology would be more effective than a single author promoting a novel.
Heather: The work is the same, but I think it’s easier to promote an anthology because there are multiple authors. Everyone has different skills and talents, and it’s nice to be able to divide up the work. Plus, there is power in numbers on social media. I am on the planning team for this anthology, and we worked with the authors to share the tasks. I chair the social media group, and we’re responsible for the website, Facebook, and Twitter pages. We’ve hosted online events and coordinated a blog tour.
Are you a wine drinker? If so, do you like cabernet?
Maggie: I am not a wine drinker. I do drink grape juice and eat grapes so I’m not too far off course ;-). I attend an annual winetasting fundraiser in Richmond (much like the one in “Wine, Women, and Wrong,” sans stabbing), so I get to observe the goings on and make up stories.
Kristin: I love wine and try to go to the Virginia Wine Trail vineyards every year! My book club jokes that we’re technically a *wine club with a book problem*. My favorite go-to wine is Italian pinot grigio, but I definitely reach for a good cabernet sauvignon on occasion.
Heather: I am a wine novice, so I’m doing my 2017 wine tour on my blog as we promote the book at wineries, wine shops, and vineyards. I’m posting what I learn and stories of our adventures. (I’m allergic to sulfites, so I stick mostly with iced tea.)
Tell us where we can find 50 Shades of Cabernet.
For the answer to this question, I’m taking the liberty of combining the responses of my three guests.
You can find 50 Shades of Cabernet at your favorite bookstore or online. The link to the book on Barnes & Noble is http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/50-shades-of-cabernet-various-authors/1125894631?ean=9781633933576. The link to the book on Amazon is https://www.amazon.com/50-Shades-Cabernet-Mysterious-Anthology-ebook/dp/B06XH65CP7/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1493665772&sr=8-1&keywords=50+shades+of+cabernet
50 Shades of Cabernet also has its own website, Twitter page, and Facebook page! You can find the website at https://www.50shadesofcabernet.com/, the Twitter page at https://twitter.com/50ShdsCabernet, and the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/50ShadesofCabernet/.
And last but not least, the anthology authors are appearing at a variety of locations and events. This is the link to their events calendar. Stop by and see them. https://www.50shadesofcabernet.com/events/
Please share your social media links with us.
Website – www.KristinKisska.com
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/KristinKisskaAuthor
Website and Blog: http://www.heatherweidner.com
Amazon Authors: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00HOYR0MQ
Anything you wish I’d asked? Anything else you’d like to say?
Maggie: Amy, your questions are great and we appreciate the chance to promote 50 Shades of Cabernet.
Kristin: Aside from buying their book(s), how can a reader support a starting-out author? All the following suggestions are completely free:
- Request their local library stock the author’s book(s).
- Follow the author on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram/Goodreads, etc.
- Tweet or post pictures of the author’s book *in the wild* (either on a trip you take or if you see it in a local bookstore). Be sure to tag the author and the location.
- Encourage your book club to read it. Many authors will Skype/Facetime with the club to answer questions and comments!
- Sign up for the author’s newsletter/blog (usually via their website).
- Attend one of the author’s book events (in person or online).
- Participate in giveaway contests the author hosts. Encourage your reader friends, too!
- Connect with an author. Leave comments on their blog. Ask questions. We’re people, too!
- And probably the single most important, leave reviews! Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, or anywhere.
Heather: I am honored to be a part of this anthology with so many talented and creative writers. I love anthologies because you can read one or two stories in a sitting, and you get to sample a lot of different literary styles.
Ladies, what a treat it’s been having all of you here today. I wish you continued success with 50 Shades of Cabernet and I hope that you’ll each come back to Reade and Write when you have other projects coming out!
Until next time,
P.S. Heather’s debut novel, Secret Lives and Private Eyes, can be found at https://www.amazon.com/Secret-Lives-Private-Eyes-Fitzgerald-ebook/dp/B01FGRFI1C/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1493664322&sr=8-1&keywords=secret+lives+and+private+eyes. You’ll have to copy and paste the link into your browser like some of the others above.