Author Spotlight: Judith Lucci

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This past summer at the Suffolk Mystery Authors Festival I had a chance to talk to Judith Lucci, a thoroughly delightful, funny, talented, and smart writer. She’s authored a number of thrillers and she’s here to talk about her most recent release, The Case of the Dead Dowager. Welcome, Judith!

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Hi Amy, thanks so much for inviting me to Reade and Write. I’m delighted to be your guest, your friend and one of your fans!

My new book, The Case of the Dead Dowager released last week and it is the second book and my Michaela McPherson crime thriller series. Mic is a retired homicide detective from Richmond, Virginia (my hometown) who currently owns a bar, Biddy McPherson’s, located in Richmond Shockoe bottom. Biddy’s is the local watering hole for the Richmond police. Michaela lives with her retired police dog, Angel, her loyal canine partner who took a bullet and saved her life. Michaela’s best friend is Dorothy Borghase, an Italian Countess whose lineage dates to early papal Rome. Michaela, Dottie, and Angel solve international crime. In the first Michaela book, The Case of Dr. Dude the trio bring an international human trafficking ring to justice. In the Dead Dowager, Dottie and Mic are searching for two hideous and heinous serial killers whose weapon of choice is poison. Here’s the blurb for the Dead Dowager:

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Dottie turned off the main highway and headed south to Blackstone Virginia. Madame Toulescent lived just outside of Blackstone and that’s where she conducted her psychic readings.  She wished away the butterflies that cramped her stomach. She had a sense that what she was going to hear wasn’t good. She wished she didn’t believe in the value of psychics or the unknown but she did, and that was that. She’d seen psychic readings and prophecies come true time after time during her life.  Mic wasn’t a believer at all but had grudgingly admitted psychics had helped them in a case about ten years ago.                                                       

The speedometer on her car registered over sixty miles an hour on a forty-five mile limit stretch of highway. I’d better slow down. The last thing I need is a Virginia state trooper on my tail. She braked and her car skidded but she handled it skillfully. The Cadillac was a big, monster car but she really liked it. Since Dottie had lived in the US, she had always preferred German-made cars and previously owned multiple Mercedes Benz. Of course, when Count Borghase had been alive, they’d always driven Italian cars, mainly Ferraris. But now she was pretty much American and she loved her Caddy. There was something about the Cadillac that was so plush and so American that she bought a new one every couple of years.

 She saw an old gray mule in the pasture out of the corner of her eye and saw the fence that was lying on the side. Dottie didn’t know what she’d do if they ever repaired that fence. She’d been looking at that fence on the ground for years and it was her landmark just before she turned onto Madame’s private road. She knew her turn was just up ahead. She slowed for a farmer carrying a load of hay in an old truck. He was hogging the entire road. Now where in the hell am I supposed to go?  She steered her big car to the side of the road as far as she could without falling into the ditch. She cursed and held her breath as the farmer passed her. She swore the farmer missed her by less than an inch. The old codger hadn’t even looked her way. She shook her head and cursed again softly. She threw her white Caddy into first gear and roared out of the ditch spewing gravel, dirt, and mud all over the road. She saw three rabbits running for their life and hoped she hadn’t interrupted their nest. Dottie drove a little further and made her left turn. She turned right on the first road and started the difficult trip along the horrible, rutted road to Madame Toulescent’s tiny home. The road was almost a mile long. Dottie’s tall, thin frame bounced all over her plush leather seat and her hair fell out of her neatly arranged bun. I’m going to have to take a pain pill. All this jumping around is killing my hips. Secretly Dottie new she needed to have her hips replaced but there was no way she was willing to do that, at least not while she could walk. I wouldn’t be able to help Michaela. And then, what would she do?

 Madame Toulescent waved at Dottie from her front porch filled with flowers and beautiful hanging baskets of petunias and begonias. Her small white cottage was immaculate. Madame Toulescent watched her painstakingly steer her huge Cadillac down her battered road. Dottie brought the iron beast to a stop, looked in her rearview mirror and re-pinned a piece of white hair that had worked its way out of her perfect updo. Even though the Madame lived in a house that was little better than a house trailer, Dottie had been trained from birth to always look perfect when visiting. This task had become monumental at age 82. She reached for her purse and checked to make sure her Glock was nestled in its special pocket. She checked her lipstick in the mirror, pinched her lips together, cursed the fine lines around her mouth and got out of the car.

 “Hello Madame Toulescent. Thank you for seeing me today on short notice.” Dorothy smiled her gracious smile at the psychic, showing her beautiful white veneers, once available for a large price from the famous, dentist-to-the-stars Dr. Michael Smirkowitz.

“You are so welcome, Countess Borghase.” Madame Toulescent looked around the empty fields and through the trees and gestured with her arm. “As you can see, there is no waiting line. Please come in. I’ve made us some tea.” She paused for a moment and said, “Watch the steps. They’re in need of repair,” she cautioned.

In need of repair, my butt, they need to be rebuilt Dottie climbed the rickety steps dodging rusty nails and wood splinters. She grasped the loose railing and posts that held up the old front porch. The last thing she wanted to do was fall and break something. She followed Madame Toulescent into her small but neat and cozy home. There was a wonderful scent in the air and Dottie’s mouth watered.

“Please have a seat in the easy chair,” the Madame offered. “I’ll bring us some tea and sweet bread.”

Dottie nodded and smiled her thanks as she carefully studied Madame Toulescent. She wasn’t sure of her nationality. She thought she was Eastern European but she seemed very much like the French and her house had several amazing pieces of French country furniture. In years past, she had asked the Madame about her former life, but the psychic seemed unwilling to share her past. Her voice had a strange accent Dottie couldn’t identify which frustrated her. Dottie had traveled the world and she knew the languages and dialects of most ethnic populations. But she couldn’t figure out Madame Toulescent’s origins. That puzzled her.

Madame handed Dottie a cup of herb tea. The aroma alerted her senses and she immediately felt more awake and inspired. The tea had given her energy and awareness. She took a sip. It was delicious.

“Oh my, Madame Toulescent. Whatever is in this tea? I feel a million times better just from smelling it. You’ve got to tell me where you got it because I know Cookie would love it too,” Dottie gushed as she sipped her tea.

Madame Toulescent smiled and said. “I made the tea. It’s a blend of ginger, mint, lemon verbena and a few other things I grow in my herb garden. I’ll send some home with you. It’s sweetened with honey I collected from my bees yesterday.” She smiled briefly, and her lips stretched over teeth that could benefit from a cosmetic dentist. “That’s probably what you love so much.”

Dottie nodded and studied the Madame. The years hadn’t treated her so well. Dottie didn’t know her age but her face was a mass of wrinkles that blended one into the other. Dottie guessed each wrinkle had its own story. Her skin appeared soft but deeply creased. Her jet black hair was streaked with gray and hung freely past her shoulders. She wore a simple blue shift with a silver belt and wore tennis shoes and socks. She smelled of lemon and freesia.

Dottie, as usual, smelled of Chanel #5. “It’s so lovely out here, Madame. Do you ever come to town?”

Madame Toulescent shook her head. “Very rarely. My neighbor collects my groceries for me when I need them and as you know, I have a huge vegetable garden and I can and freeze most everything I need. I like it here and I like to stay with my animals – my dogs, cats, cow, mules and horses. It’s quiet here and my love is nature.”

Dottie nodded. She couldn’t imagine staying in these four walls every single day. She supposed she didn’t have the patience and gentleness of spirit that the Madame had. But that was okay. Dottie was very happy in her own way.

The two women shared a comfortable silence and continued to sip their tea until the Madame asked, “How can I help you today, Countess?” She smiled at her and said, “I can tell you have some significant things on your mind and that you are troubled.”

Dottie put her teacup down and said, “Yes, I do. Have you been watching the news?” Dottie saw the woman pale under her sun-darkened skin.

Madame Toulescent nodded. “You’re here about the poisonings, aren’t you?”

Dottie held Madame’s dark eyes with her own and said, “Yes, I am. Camilla Rothrock was one of my dearest friends and I need to know who poisoned her.”

Madame shifted her gaze to the floor and said, “Countess Borghase, this is a very bad business that is happening. I’ve had some visions and they are upsetting. It reminds me of the evil work of Hitler in Germany.”

This time it was Dottie who paled, her heart beating so hard she could hardly breathe. “Oh my God, Madame. We both remember his devastation in Europe and the millions of people he murdered.”

Madame Toulescent rubbed her hands together, her face grim. “Indeed we do. A sad and sorry time. Let’s move into the back where I work and see what we can see.”

Dottie stood and followed Madame to the room in the far back of her modest home. It was a glass room with beautiful views into the forest. She left her teacup on the coffee table. Her heart thumped dangerously in her chest and she was short of breath. She was so terrified she almost lost her balance. She gripped her purse and cell phone in her hand. She was scared and just the idea of having the Glock made her feel safer. Could the evil be so strong it permeated her soul?

“Countess, why are you so upset? What can I do to help you?” Madame Toulescent looked at Dottie with concern.

Dottie stared at her but her eyes said it all.

“Let me get you something to calm you down so we can have a good reading. Please stay in the chair and I’ll be right back,” Madame Toulescent said as she left Dottie and walked to her kitchen.

Chapter 35

Dottie sat quietly in a large wing-backed chair in the calm serenity of Madame Toulescent’s solarium. The herbs Madame Toulescent had given her had done the trick. She could feel herself calming down. She could hear the rushing of the James River in the distance and she was mesmerized by the cattle grazing in the field in the distance. Perhaps all was right with the world. She supposed she’d know soon enough.

Madame motioned her to a simple wooden table on the side of the room. Dottie arose from her chair and took the seat facing the psychic. Madame Toulescent’s eyes glazed through the glass window out into the fields. Dottie wondered what she was seeing but sat quietly and watched.

“Countess Borghase, you know I’m a psychic. Generally, when we meet, I do psychic readings. But, I also function as a spiritual medium. Would you like for me to see if I could talk with your friend, Camilla?”

Dottie’s stomach knotted up and she felt nauseous. She stared at Madame Toulescent and said, her voice hesitant, “I… I don’t know. I’ve never done that before. Will it help?”

Madame Toulescent could sense her hesitation. “You seem frightened to talk with your friend or at least have your friend communicate with us. Let’s see what else we can do.”

“I didn’t know you talked with spirits,” Dottie said. “Can you tell me how that works?”

“Well, there are quite a few things I can do,” Madame Toulescent said gently. She could see Dottie was upset about channeling Camilla. “We’ve mostly done psychic readings when you’ve visited. The psychic readings are about getting advice, guidance or direction around things that are happening in your life. There’ve been a couple of times when you’ve been here in crises and you wanted some help or direction. It is my belief that a reading is getting confirmation on what our own intuition is already telling us. Most of the time, I’ve simply confirmed what your intuition had already suggested. I’ve validated what you already knew. Often as a psychic, I only teach and help people confirm their own wisdom.

Dottie nodded, “Yes, I agree with that. Most of the time you’ve validated what I’ve thought and believed and have helped me decide what to do next.”

Madame nodded. “Yes, this is true.”

“But, Countess,” she said taking Dottie’s cold hand into her warm one, “I also work as a medium and I can contact your friend Camilla and we can learn about the last few moments of her life.”

Dottie’s eyes filled with tears, “But I don’t know if I want to know about Camilla’s last few minutes. She looked so horrible and I think she was scared and in pain,” she ended with a choked sob.

Madame Toulescent nodded. “I understand what you are saying. I just want to tell you that it’s possible we can learn from Camilla. Perhaps she can help us solve the poisonings.”

Dottie was silent for a moment as she considered the possibilities. Certainly, she could be uncomfortable and upset for a few moments, particularly if she could help Michaela and the police solve these horrible murders. Besides, that would prove to Mic that she wasn’t old and helpless… although she really didn’t think Michaela thought that. That was her insecurity popping up. “Um, okay. I’ll do it. But first, could we just look at the murders in general. Could you tell me what you see and perhaps give me some direction that I can share with the authorities?”

“Of course I can, Countess. In no way do I want to upset you or frighten you, but I’m sure your friend wants to send us a message. I can feel her trying to get though,” Madame Toulescent said. “In the meantime, let me focus on the poisonings. Give me a few moments to think and commune.”

It was a lovely day. The birds were singing, the cattle were grazing contently in the field. Dottie smiled and focused on a mother deer and her fawn that grazed in the grass about twenty yards from the back window. They were beautiful. The fawn was young and still had its spots. She watched as the mother nudged her and encouraged her to eat the grass, but the fawn just wanted to play. She smiled as she saw them frolic in the sunshine.

She heard a low moan come from deep in Madame’s throat. The sound sent shivers up Dottie’s back. She wondered what Madame Toulescent saw in her vision. The moaning became worse and Dottie could hardly sit still. Her eyes returned to the view outside. The mother and fawn were staring into the window. The birds were no longer chirping. I think they know something is about to happen here.

Madame Toulescent was in a trance and her body swayed from left to right as she moaned and said ‘no’ over and over. She had a conversation with someone, smiled gently and said, “Yes, yes. I will.”

Dottie’s eyes returned to the bucolic scene in front of her. Everything was okay now. The mother deer and her baby were gone, and she could see several cardinals feasting on the seed in the birdfeeder. She could hear other birds chirping in the distance. The cows chewed their cud contentedly in the fields and the sun was bright on the early spring wild flowers. Something must be right with the world, she thought. Yes, all is right with the world, at least for a moment.

It seemed forever before Madame Toulescent rose from her trance. She looked at Dottie and asked, “Are you okay?”

Dottie shrugged her shoulders and said, “Yes, yes, I’m fine. Can you tell me what you saw?”

A dark shadow flashed across Madame’s face and she said, “I saw a lot. I felt the fear of Camilla and the three young women at the bar. I could feel the pain the women endured as the poison struck their internal organs.”

Dottie nodded and waited for more.

“Regrettably, I heard the screams and felt the fear of the school children. I talked with the children that had died and wiped their tears.”

Madame Toulescent paused for a moment to rest. Dottie watched as her shoulders relaxed and her breathing returned to normal. She went into the living room and returned with the teapot. She refilled their cups and said, “There are two men who are killing these people. One man has an agenda to kill, but the other man kills for sport. They are evil and will stop at nothing to reach their goal.” Madame Toulescent was silent for a moment and sipped her tea.

Dottie waited patiently which was one of the most difficult tasks ever for her. She was simply not patient and wanted what she wanted the second she wanted to have it. As she waited for Madam to continue, she found herself replacing the bobby pins in her hair and picking at her nails. She crossed and uncrossed her legs several times until Madame Toulescent reached under the table and put her hand on Dottie’s knee to quiet her.

“Please stop that, Countess. I can’t focus. I’m trying to remember things. We’ll talk in a moment.”

Dottie fell like a child in kindergarten. She hung her head in shame because she had interrupted Madame. A couple of minutes later, Madame said, “The two men will continue to kill as they have for a few more days. Then they plan to poison a large number of people, possibly thousands at a major event. I don’t know where but it is coming soon.”

Dottie’s heart jumped into her throat. She was so frightened she could hardly speak and beside herself with anxiety and fear. She stared at Madame Toulescent until she found her voice.

“But wait… when and where will they attack?”

Madame Toulescent repeated, “I do not know when the attack will be. Perhaps the men have not planned a date and they do not know.”

Dottie could feel fear and anxiety creep up her spine and she asked, her voice quavering, “What else, what else is there that you won’t tell me?”

Madame Toulescent stared into Dottie’s ice blue eyes and said, “Camilla said to tell you the poison was in the tea. She said when she drank the tea she began to feel sick and then she couldn’t talk or see anymore. She also said to tell you that she is okay now. She wants you to tell the General she’s fine and not to worry.”

Dottie nodded slowly and said, “I guess that’s good, if you have to be dead, right?”

Madame Toulescent nodded as she watched Dottie pull herself together and gather her purse. She stood up and offered the Madam her hand. “Thank you. Thank you for seeing me on such short notice. I truly appreciate it.”

Madame Toulescent nodded and said softly,” There’s one more thing, Countess. Do you want to hear it?”

Dottie nodded and said, “I suppose so.”

“Michaela is in grave danger. You must watch out for her carefully.”

Dottie’s spine stiffened and she stood even straighter as she looked down at the psychic, “Danger how? What kind of danger?” Dottie’s heart fluttered in her chest and she held on to the back of the chair for support. She couldn’t let anything happen to Michaela.

Madame shook her head and said, “I don’t know. I could not see her danger but I can feel it and it’s real. Please watch out for her. These men are cruel and evil. They will stop at nothing.”

Dottie said simply, “I will. I always do.”

“And, Dottie,” Madame Toulescent, “I believe you are in danger as well. So I urge you to take no chances and to stay safe.”

Dottie grinned and flashed Madame Toulescent her favorite aristocratic smile. “I’ll be fine, Madame. I’m always in danger. After all, I’m eighty-two years old.”

Madame smiled, “I am serious, Dottie, please watch yourself and stay safe.”

“I will, I promise, thank you.” Dottie’s voice sounded a lot stronger than she felt as she left Madame’s modest home and walked the short distance to her car. She opened her door and sat down, grateful for the softness of the plush, soft leather cushions. She closed her eyes and a million rays of light invaded her head. She was stressed, deeply scared and worried. These were different feelings for Dottie who usually only feared forgetting something or losing her memory. I’ve got to take care of Michaela.

Madame Toulescent watched Dottie back up her big car and continue carefully down the deeply rutted road. She felt intense fear for the Countess but she feared mostly for Michaela McPherson. These were evil men.

***

I loved writing this book because I love the characters! Michaela is based on a friend of mine who is indeed a retired homicide detective and Dottie is exactly who I would like to be when I’m 82 years of age. Angel… well, anyone who knows anything about me knows that I love dogs and Angel is a personification of the perfect canine.

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I have three goals in my books. The first is to engage the reader so they keep reading, the second is to entertain with a great story and the third is to education my readers. In both of my series, my Alexandra Destephano medical thriller series and my Michaela McPherson crime thrillers, I advocate for vulnerable populations and disenfranchised people. In the Michaela McPherson series, I bring attention to military and police working dogs such as Angel, and their value in law enforcement. I focus on the usefulness, respect and wisdom of the elderly such as Dottie. I also am very supportive of law enforcement in both of my series.

My medical thrillers, the Alex Destephano novels, are based in New Orleans and Virginia. Alex is a nurse attorney from a politically prominent Virginia family who moved to the Big Easy to run a hospital. The fictional Crescent City Medical Center is located near the French Quarter in NOLA and sees the wealthiest of the wealthy and the poorest and most violent criminals in the city.   Alex is vulnerable … she’s been hurt in life and hurt in love, but she’s determined to make it alone. She smart, goal directed, ethical and a fighter. Alex’s personal values are high.  So far, Alex hasn’t been able to catch a break and finds herself involved in one horrific situation after another. All of my books have won The Readers’ Favorite Five Star seal. Recently, The Case of Dr. Dude won ‘Best Read of the Summer’ in the United Kingdom.

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In my ‘other’ life I’m a registered nurse, college professor and a researcher. Writing fiction was quite difficult for me from a technical standpoint because I’d been an academic writer most of my life and all of my early rejections comments on my ‘robot writing and characters’. I think I’ve finally achieved the ability to write good, expressive and meaningful dialogue and create memorable characters. I try to write every single day, generally in the mornings my goal is at least 2000 words per day but I really would prefer to do twice that. When I read, I read pretty much what I write… mysteries, crime thrillers, spy novels and action and adventure. I love historical fiction and I have many, many favorite authors – many of them are indie.

Thanks so much for allowing me to be a part of your blog.  Feel free to follow me on Facebook.  You can contact me at http://www.JudithLucci.com.

The links to my books are below.

Judith Lucci Book Links
Universal Bitly
Amazon Author Page: http://bit.ly/GetMedThrillers
Dr. Dude: http://bit.ly/ViewDrDude
Viral: http://bit.ly/SeeViralIntent
Toxic: http://bit.ly/ViewToxic
Imposter: http://bit.ly/ViewImposter
Chaos: http://bit.ly/ViewChaos

Dead Dowager: https://www.amazon.com/Case-Dead-Dowager-McPherson-Mysteries/dp/1539822311/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1480993203&sr=8-1&keywords=the+case+of+the+dead+dowager

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Thanks for visiting Reade and Write, Judith! Congratulations on your new release!

Until next time,

Amy

Meet Julie Seedorf

This week I have the honor of hosting Julie Seedorf, author of the Fuschia Minnesota Mystery series (also known as the Granny mystery series), the brand-new Brilliant Minnesota series, and the Granny’s In Trouble series for younger readers. She is also the author of Something About Nothing, a compilation of her newspaper columns. She is blogging today about Feeding her Dream.

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Feeding The Dreamer

I love to write. It is my dream job.  I have to pinch myself once in a while to make sure I am awake, because I love my career. I wanted to be an author for so long, but was afraid to try.  Lo and behold by chance, and I believe a little divine intervention, Granny Hooks A Crook was born. Cozy Cat Press offered me a contract. I was gifted a new career.

There is one thing I love along with my writing and maybe a tad bit more, and that is putting smiles on people’s faces with my fantasies. One of the reasons I concocted such silly tales and made up places such as Fuchsia, Minnesota was to take people away from their real world for a short time. Our world can be a gritty world to live in.

The smiles and comments of my readers feed my writing. I want to feed their smiles and laughter and lighten their load.

We all have hills and valleys in life and my characters are no different in that respect. Granny (Hermiony Vidalia Criony Fiddlestadt) may seem far out and very forgetful in Granny Hooks A Crook, the first book in the series, but what you see is not always what you get. If you follow Granny through the series you learn more about her life and those of her family and neighbors. You get a glimpse into her foundation and the experiences that make her the crusty, feisty old woman she is.

I didn’t realize until later in life I felt constricted by all the man-made rules we have to live with every day in our communities. I remember the days when people could choose what to do with their properties and their homes before HOA’s. Fuchsia is a community I would love to live in. Both the town and Granny are a little bit of a satire on our beliefs on aging and what should happen in communities. Anything goes in Fuchsia as long as it doesn’t conform to society in the outside world of Minnesota.

I don’t usually model my characters on anyone I know except perhaps Granny. She has tones of my stubborn mom who died at 93. At 90 years old she was still climbing her roof repairing it, much to my dismay. I didn’t understand my mom but after creating Granny and getting into her head, I wish I could go back and cheer my mom on. I want that grit.

I create characters I like and would like to know and hang out with in real life, even the sinister ones. Everyone has a redeeming quality somewhere, although I don’t always find it in my villains. Maybe my readers do.

I felt I needed to take a little break from my Fuchsia Series and so I created the Brilliant Minnesota Series. The first book, The Penderghast Puzzle Protectors, will be out within the next month.  I didn’t realize how hard it would be for me to write the first book in the new series. With the first book in the Fuchsia Series I had no expectations.

The Penderghast Puzzle Protectors takes place in a neighboring town to Fuchsia. Brilliant Minnesota is very different from Fuchsia but the characters are as quirky. Jezabelle Jingle has ties to Fuchsia with her niece Delight Delure. Jezabelle is feisty, sweet, not quite as cantankerous as Granny, and is very good at roping her neighbors into getting into trouble. It seems the founders of Brilliant left a puzzle to be solved and Jezabelle’s neighborhood is spot on for mayhem and crooked shenanigans.

I found when starting this book my heart was invested in my characters in Fuchsia. It took me at least until the middle of the book before I had a good feel for each character and knew what their personalities would lend to the book. I don’t write like many authors. I have an idea and I begin writing, never knowing where the story is going to take me. It always works out. I can’t outline first. I have to do it after to make sure things fit, because when I outline first it stomps on my creativity and I feel constricted as I do with some of life’s real rules.

I love getting to know my readers and I love getting to know authors whom I have admired for  years. I learn so much from all of them. Now I am working on my fifth Fuchsia Minnesota book, writing my column every week, Something About Nothing, and am enjoying life with my husband, my kids and grandkids and my two shysters, Boris and Natasha.

My advice is:  If you have a dream, don’t let it go, you never know where it may take you.

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Thank you, Julie, for the wonderful post. You can find Julie online at http://www.julieseedorf.com/. You can find Julie and her books on Amazon, too: http://www.amazon.com/Julie-Seedorf/e/B009WAAANQ.

Amy Metz Interview

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This week I welcome author Amy Metz, author of the Goose Pimple Junction books. I just recently downloaded the first book in the series, Murder & Mayhem in Goose Pimple Junction, and I’m very much looking forward to reading it. Nice to have you here, Amy!

Interview Questions for Reade and Write

Tell me about your new book.

Heroes & Hooligans in Goose Pimple Junction is the second book in my Goose Pimple Junction mystery series. The main characters in this book are Martha Maye Applewhite and Johnny Butterfield. All of the same characters from the first book are back for this one, plus a few new ones. There are several mysteries to solve – some more sinister than others – and of course, someone has to die!

Who is the audience for the book?

Anyone who likes mysteries and has a sense of humor.

Tell me about the setting of your book—how did you choose it, what kind of research did you have to do, why did you choose it?

I’ve been told that the town itself is almost a character of its own, and that makes me very happy. Goose Pimple Junction is a combination of a couple of real life small towns and my imagination. I wanted a close-knit community with whacky characters and a beautiful, clean Southern town. I hope it’s a place readers would like to visit or live.

What was the hardest thing about writing the book?

I had a hard time coming up with a plot with this second book. I actually had a different killer in my first draft. And editing . . . don’t get me started!

If your book were made into a movie, who would you like to see playing the main characters?

I think Kathy Bates would be a great Louetta. Or Shirley McClain. But Louetta’s a heavy woman, in my mind, so maybe Shirley wouldn’t work. For the other characters, I just don’t know. I’m coming up blank.

Have you written any other books?

I’ve written the first book in the series, Murder & Mayhem in Goose Pimple Junction (of course), and I’m writing the third book now. I also have a novelette just about finished up that explains a few things that happened in between the first and second books.

Are you in one or more critique groups or partnerships?

I was when I wrote Murder & Mayhem, but I’m not anymore. I do think they’re a great source of advice and support. I just don’t have time to properly participate right now.

Do you write every day?

In normal times, yes. My life is in total upheaval right now, so it’s been a while since I’ve written. I am itching to get back to it. I have a new character in mind, and he’s giving me all sorts of ideas.

When you read a book, what authors do you like best? What genres do you like best?

I love mysteries, and Robert B. Parker is my favorite author. I also like humor, so when an author combines mystery and humor, I’m hooked. David Rosenfelt and Dennis Hart do a really good job of that in their novels. Harlan Coben, Michael Connelly, John Sandford, Nelson DeMille . . . there are so many to love.

Where would you like to go more than anywhere else on earth?

To The Colony Hotel in Kennebunkport, Maine. I’ll sit on the veranda overlooking the ocean, sip a cold drink, alternating from reading a book to photographing the beauty of the area and the activity on the water. Heaven.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Run, Forrest, Run!

What is your favorite movie and why?

Hmm…not sure I can pinpoint it to one. I love Princess Bride, O Brother, Where Art Thou, My Cousin Vinny. One really weird one that I love is Wild Wild West, with Kevin Klein and Will Smith. There are a lot of movies to love, too.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Follow your heart, but listen to your mind.

Describe yourself in three words.

Crazy old lady.

Is there anything I haven’t asked that you wanted me to?

Nope. I’ve been in the hot seat long enough!

Where can readers connect with you?

Website: http://amymetz.com

Blog: http://abluemillionbooks.blogspot.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorAmyMetz

Twitter: https://twitter.com/authoramymetz

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6436458.Amy_Metz

Where can readers find your books?

Right now they’re only at Amazon.com.

http://www.amazon.com/Amy-Metz/e/B008NA07X4/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Murder & Mayhem in Goose Pimple Junction: http://www.amazon.com/Murder-Mayhem-Pimple-Junction-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B00NE1H8FW/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Heroes & Hooligans in Goose Pimple Junction: http://www.amazon.com/Heroes-Hooligans-Goose-Pimple-Junction-ebook/dp/B00R6CWTYU/ref=pd_sim_351_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=050Q2JRSHCS5B157VKZW

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Dennis Hart Interview

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Good morning! Today is the second in my three-week series of interviews with other authors. Welcome, Dennis Hart, author of Sand Key.

Tell me about your new book.

Sand Key is the sequel to my first book Gulf Boulevard published by The Permanent Press. It continues with the story of Jason Najarian, a burned out accountant, who dreams about escaping the cold of New England for the warm embrace of a tropical island. On a cold and snowy day, Jason’s wish came true in the form of a multi-million dollar Powerball lottery ticket. He quit his job, packed his bags, and moved to a barrier island off the west coast of Florida.  But as Jason will tell you, be careful what you wish for. In Sand Key, Jason has fallen in love with Fiona Tallahassee, the international assassin who was hired by the mafia in the first book to kill a hitman hiding on Jason’s island. Now Jason is living with her in the Bahamas until she suddenly disappears. Not knowing what to do, Jason returns to Sand Key where he hopes Fiona will someday return. But, unbeknownst to him, a drug cartel has designated his island the perfect spot for the import of their drugs. With a cast of colorful characters, Jason must maneuver through all the obstacles that continue to keep him from a life of solitude.

Who is the audience for the book?

I’d like to think anyone who enjoys a comedic adventure would enjoy these books. My writing has been compared by Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist, and Kirkus, to name a few, to that of Carl Hiaasen, Tim Dorsey, and Laurence Shames.

Tell me about the setting of your book—how did you choose it, what kind of research did you have to do, why did you choose it?

I vacationed and then bought property on Palm Island, a barrier island just south of Sarasota. I chose the setting because it was idyllic and ripe for mayhem.

What was the hardest thing about writing the book?

The hardest thing was fighting with my characters. I had originally planned to write a serious thriller, but the characters kept chirping funny lines back at me. So I acquiesced.

If your book were made into a movie, who would you like to see playing the main characters?

The role of Sal Santini, the hitman that befriends Jason and is killed by Fiona, would be played by perfectly by John Goodman. I think Jason Bateman would make a good Jason Najarian. Keira Knightly has the look for Fiona Tallahasse, and Jason’s ex-wife, Megan O’Malley could be played by Amy Pollack.

Have you written any other books?

My titles are: Life Minus 3 ½, Gulf Boulevard, and Sand Key. My latest book, Pictures of Children, should be out by the summer of 2015.

Are you in one or more critique groups or partnerships?

None that I’m aware of.

Do you write every day?

I write myself a million-dollar check every day in the hopes that one day I’ll cash one.

When you read a book, what authors do you like best? What genres do you like best?

John Grisham, Carl Hiaasen, Vince Flynn, Amy Metz and a host of others. I’m eclectic as long as the writing/story holds me.

Where would you like to go more than anywhere else on earth?

My garden. Nothing arrests the aging process better than a vegetable garden.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

I’m really not qualified to give advice, but I would offer a flashing neon sign as a warning that there are many people in the book industry willing and able to rip you off.

What is your favorite movie and why?

Braveheart. As emotions go, it had it all. I don’t think I blinked once.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

1) Only do one poop per diaper. 2) Concentrate on schooling because you’re never going to be tall enough to play professional sports. 3) Stay away from women.

Describe yourself in three words.

Ambitious. Entrepreneur. Casual.

Is there anything I haven’t asked that you wanted me to?

We’re good.

Where can readers connect with you?

writingsbyhart@yahoo.com

Where can readers find your books?

On Amazon, hardcover, soft and e-book. Some book stores carry my books, and if they don’t, they can order them. Or contact me at writingsbyhart@yahoo.com and I can ship you one.

Publication Date: February 28, 2014

About the book:

Every night, Jason Najarian dreams of a secluded tropical island where he fantasizes about living the good life as a hermit. No more rat-race. No more people. When a long-odds occurrence compels him to buy a lottery ticket, the resultant $63 million jackpot sets in motion a series of events that allows him to depart snowy Boston forever and begin living out his dream in comfort and style. But as Jason soon discovers, not even financial security can rid a man of life’s little annoyances. Having settled in to his new gulf-front home on Sand Key, a barrier island off the west coast of Florida with turquoise water, gentle breezes, and spectacular sunsets, Jason quickly learns that his idyllic life of solitude will require more effort than he anticipated. From the opposite end of the island comes a rotund and frustratingly nosy neighbor, Salvatore Scalise, who turns out to be a contract killer and a marked man. The unlikely friendship between the two leads to a madcap caper involving an unbearably clingy ex-wife seeking a share of Jason’s windfall, an expletive spewing parrot, a revenge-seeking mafia family, two mysterious men dressed in black, and a gorgeous young woman called Running Bush who catches Jason’s eye. If Jason hopes to escape unharmed with the woman of his dreams, he must determine how to safely extract Sal from his life. But in this hilarious tale of misplaced intentions and mistaken identity, no one is quite who they seem.

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 About the author:

Dennis Hart is the owner of an environmental equipment rental company in Massachusetts. He was an active member of a writer’s forum since 2010 called “The Next Big Writer,” where his work was well received and critiqued by other authors. His memoir, Life Minus 3½, was ranked number one for several weeks out of hundreds of submissions. In a separate writing contest judged by published authors, the memoir was selected third best out of 427 entries. It has also received a recommended review by KIRKUS.

His full-length novels include Gulf Boulevard, which has been sold for publication, Pictures of Children, Flight of the Owl, and his short stories include “Storms, Bandits, and Heat Wave.” Sand Key is the sequel to Gulf Boulevard.

 

Website: http://writingsbyhart.com/about/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Writings-By-Hart/234772429878204

Buy the book: Sand Key: http://www.amazon.com/Sand-Key-Dennis-Hart-ebook/dp/B00SZCDQYM/ref=la_B0039X0AIM_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1431606370&sr=1-1

Gulf Boulevard:  http://www.amazon.com/Gulf-Boulevard-Dennis-Hart-ebook/dp/B00ISATAT6/ref=la_B0039X0AIM_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1431606430&sr=1-2

Life Minus 3 ½ : http://www.amazon.com/Life-Minus-3-1-2-ebook/dp/B00AES0MEW/ref=la_B0039X0AIM_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1431606478&sr=1-3

 

Guest Blogger Susan M. Toy

This week I would like to welcome guest blogger Susan M. Toy, whose blogs I enjoy very much and who has much to teach writers:

 Kind Readers . . . Thank You!!!

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Kind Readers,

Since I am an Author, you mean the world to me, because without you the words I write have no meaning at all. So I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you, from the bottom of my heart, for taking the time to read what I write. You make me the Author that I am, and I owe you everything!

You, on the other hand, owe me nothing. You’ve done your bit by reading. You definitely do not owe me a written review on an online site – especially if you’re not used to writing reviews of whatever you read. I’m speaking for myself here when I say that I WILL NEVER REQUEST NOR EXPECT YOU to write a review or rate my book and writing. Whether you’ve bought either of my books or received them in a giveaway or I’ve sent you a complimentary copy – I will never, ever, ever request that you write a review. But, as I say, that’s just my attitude towards the whole review thing. And here’s why I feel this way …

I previously wrote a blog post, Most Read vs. Best Sold – my purple cow, in which I discussed a new idea I’d had for judging a book’s quality based on the number of times it had been read rather than the quantity of copies sold. You see, even though I’ve been both a bookseller and a publishing sales rep, as an Author I’m definitely not all about how well my books are selling or how much money I can make from them. I AM all about finding Readers, whatever way I can, Readers who enjoy what I write. It’s more fulfilling for me to hear directly from a Reader that they have enjoyed one of my books than to concern myself with the almighty dollar (or Euro) or worry about whether my books are selling as well as, or better than, Mr. X’s books. It’s just not worth the time I’d spend checking figures and wringing my hands, feeling all the while I must certainly be a failure. As long as just one Reader tells me they like what they read then I believe I’ve done a good job!

So you won’t hear me asking you to leave a review. (Besides having this attitude that you don’t owe me anything, Readers, I should tell you I generally don’t read those online reviews myself when making book selection decisions, so how can I expect your review of my book will ever be read by anyone else? I also wonder how many of you don’t rely on reviews, either. Hmmm …)

However, what I will ask you to consider doing is personally recommending books you read and enjoy – and not just my books, but all books you read – to your family, your friends, your co-workers and colleagues, your book club, local librarians and booksellers. Even if every Reader only tells just one friend, that’s something, because there is nothing – absolutely NOTHING! – as good as a personal recommendation. And it’s so easy to do: just mention the book’s title in a conversation; send an email to a friend you think may also like the book; post a link to the book on Facebook or Twitter simply saying you read and enjoyed the book; suggest the book to your book club/local librarian/bookseller as something they may all consider discussing/ acquiring/selling. You won’t be doing anything other than what you usually do in life, and that is carrying on a conversation with friends. Make books and reading part of your conversations. I am one Author who will be heartily appreciative if you were to do this!

And, if you wish to take this suggestion one step further, please consider writing to the Author to tell them how much you enjoyed their book. You can’t imagine what this means to me and to many other Authors – to know that you not only took the time to read what we’ve written, but that you’ve enjoyed the book enough to want to tell us, and other Readers, about your pleasure. We Authors can’t thank you enough for that, because it validates what we do by writing the book in the first place.

I received a friend request the other day (we have a mutual friend) and after I accepted, my new friend wrote the most wonderful note, telling me he had discovered my novel through a comment made by our mutual friend, and was intrigued enough to purchase a copy. Then he told me how much he was enjoying reading it! It’s the unexpected ways Readers discover our writing that thrill me, and there is nothing better than a word-of-mouth recommendation like this. So that’s why I hope Readers who feel positive about their reading experience do contact us, in one way or another. After all, most writers don’t bite! And we certainly can’t bite you on social media.

Getting back now to that “word-of-mouth” I mentioned … I’m working on developing a campaign based on this concept (or what we called “handselling” in the book business) and hope that other Readers will consider spreading the word about good books they read, not by writing reviews and posting them online – I know many of you are very shy, after all – but by doing what comes naturally and “conversing” about the books with people you already know. If it means that your friend will only read a copy they borrow from you, so be it … as long as they read the book! And you might also consider offering to purchase a copy for your local library to help them with the expense of acquiring. Or give the book as a gift, for birthdays and other occasions. Nothin’ says lovin’ like handing a friend a book you have enjoyed.

Then, hopefully, once they read it they will in turn spread the word further to their friends. Some of you are old enough to remember this Shampoo Commercial from the 1970s that illustrates my point perfectly. (Or, if you prefer, the Wayne’s World version …)

Consider doing the same for other books you read and enjoy. I’m sure I’m not the only Author who will thank you for your endorsements. I know, reviews do take time and effort to write and not everyone wants to have an online presence; a personal endorsement of anything, though, can be introduced, easily and naturally, in conversation with family, neighbours, colleagues and co-workers, librarians, booksellers – anyone you know who likes to read. As a Reader, your opinions really do matter! Really!

Thank you!!!

Susan M. Toy has been a bookseller, a publishing sales rep, an Author Impresario, and is now an Author of her own books as well as a publisher. She’s always scheming and thinking of new ways to promote ALL Authors and books and to bring Readers and Authors together.

You may contact Susan through her two blogs, Books: Publishing, Reading, Writing  and Reading Recommendations.