Author Interview: Jenny Kales

Today we’re celebrating the release of A Stew to a Kill, Book 4 in the Callie’s Kitchen Mystery series by Jenny Kales.

Welcome, Jenny! Congratulations and happy book birthday!

Jenny has a busy day planned with book launch festivities, but she’s here for an interview about her characters and her books.

The main character in the series, Callie Costas, is the owner of Callie’s Kitchen; each book in the series finds Callie dealing with various seedy elements of Crystal Bay, Wisconsin. In A Stew to a Kill, a new employee in a neighboring shop, Tea for Two, is found murdered and Callie finds herself being drawn into the murder investigation. And when an old boyfriend shows up in town with his sights set on developing a mall that will hurt the small business vibe in Crystal Bay, Callie begins to wonder if his sudden appearance has anything to do with the murder.

I love Jenny’s books and I’m eager to read A Stew to a Kill.

So Jenny, tell us how you came to choose the setting of Crystal Bay, WI, for your series.

Two reasons that I created this fictional town: I love Wisconsin and I wasn’t coming across cozy mysteries set there. That got me thinking. The next time I visited the Geneva Lakes region of Wisconsin, a beautiful area filled with lakes, small scenic, towns, colorful local history and a bustling small community combined with tourists, I looked around and thought: this is it! Also, there is a presence of Greek people in the community, though it is small.

Specifically, I based Crystal Bay on the Lake Geneva and Williams Bay area of Wisconsin. Because I wanted to take liberties with the location, I decided to combine the two into one town: Crystal Bay. I visit the area often and have come up with my mystery ideas each time. It’s fun!

Are the recipes in your books ones that come from your own collection? Are there recipes you’ve wanted to include in the books, but didn’t?

Recipes come from my own collection, including family recipes from my husband’s side of the family. Now, sometimes Greek recipes are hard to track down because nobody writes them down and would look at you oddly if you asked for that. They seem to be absorbed through the DNA! I’ve been lucky in two ways regarding Greek family recipes. My husband’s grandmother (YiaYia) was involved in a 1950 Greek Orthodox Church cookbook produced in 1950. Several copies survived and were gifted to new members of the family. This book is amazing! True, I have tweaked many recipes for fat content here and there, but these are true-blue recipes and they are fabulous. Several years ago, my sister-in-law commissioned a family cookbook and captured many elusive recipes that we now all have.

There are always recipes I’m not able to include, but I try to find some way to share them. For example, I did not include Callie’s “Speedy Pastitsio” recipe in my latest book even though it is mentioned, because I just had too many other recipes to include. However, I plan to include the recipe in a newsletter soon, so make sure that you’re signed up! Speedy Pastitsio is my own creation and my whole family loves it.

Your knowledge of Greek food and culture is obvious, but in a beautifully subtle way. Have you been to Greece?

I have not been to Greece. My husband has been there several times and was briefly a student there. He also worked on an island for a while, many years ago. I get a lot of my knowledge from him! However, I’m hoping we can go at some point because I plan to set my next Callie novel in Greece!

Can you share something about your main character, Callie, that most readers don’t know?

She’s afraid of the dark! Not so convenient for her, considering she keeps finding herself in dangerous situations that often involve it.

Who are some of your favorite cozy authors?

So many! To name a few: Dianne Mott Davidson, Leslie Meier, Lorna Barrett and two I am lucky enough to call friends: Linda Reilly and new author Debra Sennefelder. This isn’t everyone, of course, so I guess you could say I love cozy mysteries, period.

When you’re writing a novel, do you read within your genre, or do you, like many authors, read only books outside your genre when you’re deep into the writing process?

I try to avoid cozy mysteries when I’m deep into writing a novel. One, because I don’t want to unconsciously copy anyone and two, because I don’t want to feel inferior to the author I’m reading, lol. You never want to let the self-doubt creep in while you’re writing. I like to read historical fiction, contemporary fiction, “detective” fiction like the Shetland novels and suspense when I’m writing.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I love to spend time outdoors, travel with my husband and family, hang out with my kids, bake and cook, of course, and browse vintage stores. I love vintage clothing, cookbooks, jewelry and I collect classic Nancy Drew novels. I also love to read, (no surprise) and I love mystery TV like Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. She is my idol.

Where do you do your best writing?

Not at home! I have two favorite libraries where I have written most of my books. The key is to find a library with a “quiet room,” and then I go to town.

Do you have a favorite character in your Callie’s Kitchen series? Who is it and why?

That’s a tough one, but I’d have to say George, Callie’s father. I can picture him so clearly in my mind’s eye and his dialogue just flows out of me. Also, he’s funny, sometimes unintentionally, protective to a fault, but loving as can be.

What’s next for Callie?

She is about to set off on a big adventure! I can’t give too many spoilers but as I said above, I’m about 90% sure I will have her visiting Greece and, of course, encountering a mystery there.

Thank you, Amy, for having me on your blog today. It was a lot of fun!

It was my pleasure. Congratulations and best wishes for lots of success with the new book! Readers, you can find A Stew to a Kill by clicking here or by clicking on the picture at the top of the post.

Jenny has a seasonal newsletter: sign up here!

To learn more about Jenny, visit her online!

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

Instagram

Pinterest

Until next time,

Amy

 

 

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Author Spotlight: DB Corey

Today I welcome DB Corey to Reade and Write. I had the pleasure of meeting DB and his wife, Maggie, at the Suffolk Mystery Authors Festival in August and they are both charming and fun. DB is here to talk (with his characteristic razor-sharp sense of humor) about his newest release, The Lesser Sin. His first novel, Chain of Evidence, has garnered some incredible reviews on Amazon and I need to add both his books to my TBR.

Tell us about your new book.

Law Abiding Citizen meets Femme Fatale. The Lesser Sin is the first in a two-part series—a dark thriller, it’s the tale of Hanna Braver, a CIA sniper that leaves Afghanistan to hunt down the man that got away with the brutal murder of her sister. A devout Catholic, Hanna struggles with the concepts of her faith as love of family compels her to seek justice by committing the most grievous of Mortal sins, jeopardizing her Immortal Soul in the process.

Who is the audience for the book?

Anyone compelled by the anti-hero plotline. Anyone who cheers a progressively gritty protagonist that does the wrong thing, for the right reason … and begins to like it.

Tell us 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?

Choice – The book is set in the tristate area of Maryland, Virginia, and Delaware. Virginia was easy because Hanna works for the CIA, and headquarters (Langley) is in Virginia. Maryland because I am so familiar with the area, and Delaware because of its rural characteristics and summer resort action.

Research – I did Google Earth searches on the eastern shore area of Delaware, and several on Virginia—primarily the Langley compound. After the late-night knock on my door, I explained to the Feds that I was writing a book and that was the reason for my surveillance of Spook Central. After reading the manuscript, they decided not to put me in jail, but only because they liked the book. Said it made the agency look good. (OK, I’m only kidding, but one must be careful of what one Googles). Additionally, I spoke with local police agencies in all three states and a couple former CIA types (Retired), one of which happens to be a fellow author, and one a Beta reader and fan. A Roman Catholic priest rounds out the research pool. I was very careful as to what I asked. I don’t want to be looking up, after I’m gone.

Choice – I chose these three states because of their proximity to each other. Hanna is hunting Daemon Goode. I didn’t want it to be too easy for her.

What was the hardest thing about writing the book?

As suggested by the title, a religious thread runs through this story: confessions, Bible passages, prayers and the like. There’s even a little Latin for those linguists and priests out there. I maintain religion in this tale as barrier, an obstacle that forces Hanna to come to terms with it, but I didn’t want the Faith component to hijack the story or have it come off as “preachy.” One reviewer pointed out that it wasn’t, so I must have succeeded. I wanted to weave it in as a character in the book, much like The DaVinci Code or The Exorcist. Not as an entity unto itself.

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

Ah, dreams. Hanna Braver – Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman), Cole – I lean toward Lance Reddick (The Fringe, Bosch), but he’s a bit tall for the character. Hanna is taller than Cole, but so was Jack Reacher vs. Tom Cruise, so I’ll leave that open for now.

Have you written any other books?

Sure. One really bad one (sitting on the shelf at home), and Chain of Evidence, my first novel published to rave reviews (Amazon).

Are you in one or more critique groups or partnerships?

I was when I started writing, stayed with a critique group for a year or so, but dropped out after that. I found that some of the folks in the group had a thin skin, and served up more resentment than constructive criticism. But, http://www.writing.com is a writer’s community, and that worked out well for me.

Do you write every day?

I try, but holding a day job makes it difficult to stick with it (sadly, writing has not provided a living wage. Yet. But I am hopeful).

Who are your favorite authors? Favorite genres?

I like thrillers, mystery, crime, humor, horror, and sci-fi. Writers? Same as most, I suppose: Patterson, King, Clancy, Cornwell, Flynn and the like. But those are easy, they’re so well known. I really enjoy reading books from writers that I know personally; colleagues I meet at festivals and conferences. The last one I read was Sand and Fire by Tom Young—an excellent military yarn by a great writer, fellow flier, and personal friend-o-mine.

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

Singapore and Ireland. Maybe Hawaii if my wife would let me. All those grass skirts….

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Don’t let frustration deter you. READ the writers you admire—their first books. Learn from what they did. How they did it. Especially their first chapter.

Learn how to grab your reader early. That is paramount!

Oh … and don’t quit your day job.

And while you’re at it, read:

The First Five Chapters – Noah Lukeman

Hooked – Les Edgerton – another personal friend-o-mine

What is your favorite movie and why?

God, so many. Scent of a Woman, The Sandlot, The Green Mile, A Christmas Story … more.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Stay 30.

Describe yourself in three words.

Generous, Considerate, Optimistic … so optimistic.

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

“What are you working on now?”

Well, since you asked, Amy, I’m writing the follow up to The Lesser Sin. No title yet, but the obvious choice is The Greater Sin. And I have another series on the backburner I really want to write: a near-future thriller revolving around a young girl and the grandmother that raised her, taken against her will by a desperate government. And then there’s a second in The Moby Truax (Chain of Evidence) series. So much to write, so little time.

Where can readers connect with you?

Facebook

Website (has my email link)

Twitter 

Where can readers find your books?

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

iTunes

Pronoun

Google Play

Thanks so much for stopping by, DB! Best wishes with The Lesser Sin.

Until next time,

Amy

 

Author Spotlight: Kristina M. Stanley, Part Two

Today on Reade and Write I welcome Kristina M. Stanley back to the hot seat. You may recall her last visit, during which she discussed her book Avalanche (which I’ve read and can highly recommend). You can read that post here if you’d like. Kristina is here today to talk about her new book, Look the Other Way. Welcome, Kristina!

Tell me about your new book.

LOOK THE OTHER WAY: A year after her Uncle Bobby mysteriously disappears in the turquoise waters surrounding the Bahamas, Shannon Payne joins her grieving aunt to trace his last voyage. Shannon hopes the serenity of the sea might help her recover from a devastating breakup with her fiancé.

Sailing their 38-foot catamaran, A Dog’s Cat, is Captain Jake Hunter, a disillusioned cop who has sworn off women. While Shannon tries to resist her growing attraction to the rugged captain, she uncovers some dark truths about her uncle’s death that might send all three of them to the depths.

Who is the audience for the book?

Look the Other Way is for mystery readers who like to read books with a little adventure and a little romance.

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 wrote the first draft during the summer of 2012, but long before that my life had already started to influence what I would write. In the fall of 2009, my husband, Mathew, and I started our journey across the Gulf Stream from Florida to the Bahamas. We were aboard our catamaran, Mattina, feeling pretty good about the day…

But no matter how much you plan, the weather can sneak up on you.

We set out from the Florida coast at 11 at night in flat seas, low winds and a perfect weather forecast. Just enough wind to keep our sails up and the boat moving at 6 to 8 knots.

By the next morning, the wind and seas grew. You can see by the foul weather jacket Mathew is wearing that we knew a storm was coming.

Little did I know this day would be research for Look The Other Way.  Bigger seas, stronger winds. Too bad I’d put the camera away.

The bilge pump started – which it shouldn’t if the bilge is dry – and my adrenaline rose. Did we have a leak? Were we taking on water? Now, I can’t ruin the surprise, because I used this adventure in one of the scenes in Look The Other Way

What was the hardest thing about writing the book?

Keeping track of the wind direction and what tack the boat was on.

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

I’d love to see Jennifer Lawrence play the part of Shannon Payne.

Tell us about your other books.

I’ve written the Stone Mountain Series. DESCENT, BLAZE, and AVALANCHE are the first three in the series. They take place in the depths of the British Columbian Mountains. All three are mysteries. I guess I love to write about places I’ve lived.

Are you in one or more critique groups or partnerships?

I write best when I’m alone. I have beta readers, but I don’t belong to a critique group. I live in the remote mountains of British Columbia, Canada, so there aren’t many writers around. There are a lot of bears, but they don’t help much…

Do you write every day?

I’ve never been a person who writes every day, except when I’m participating in Nanowrimo (for those of you who aren’t familiar with this reference, it’s National Novel Writing Month–November).

What authors do you like best? What genres do you like best?

I read almost exclusively mysteries, but I don’t have a favorite author. I like to read as many different authors as I can. I find a lot of them through my Mystery Monday series where other authors give writing tips and talk about their latest book. If anyone is interested in guest blogging, just let me know. I’m now scheduling for 2018.

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

I like to be with my husband anywhere we can be active outside.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Write a lot. It’s like anything else you do. The more you do it, the better you get at it.

Describe yourself in three words.

I’m going to give you a sentence instead of three words: Do the fun bits first!

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

I’m the co-founder and CEO of Feedback Innovations, a company started to help writers rewrite better fiction. I love the self-editing process and want to help other writers learn how to do a structural edit on their own work.

Where can readers connect with you?

www.KristinaStanley.com

Https://Fictionary.co 

Where can readers find your books?

All of my books are for sale on Amazon.  (http://amzn.to/28Qxdcs)

Thanks for visiting, Kristina! Good luck with your new book–I’m really looking forward to it!

Until next time,

Amy

Author Spotlight: D.H. Gibbs

Today on Reade and Write I welcome D.H. Gibbs, author of the new sweet romance short story A Touch of Kindness. Like other authors I have interviewed recently, D.H and I are in a Facebook group together. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know I typically interview mystery authors, but I enjoyed D.H.’s children’s book, Don’t Go Mango Picking, so much that I thought it would be fun to learn more about her. Welcome, D.H.!

Tell me about your new book.

My new book is called A Touch of Kindness. It’s a sweet romance story about a woman named Mali who grew up thinking that everyone needs a little kindness to help them find their way. When she meets Quin this is what she does. She helps him out of a sticky situation. Of course Quin has secrets that has her wondering what she got herself into.

Who is the audience for the book?

This book is for anyone who likes romance, sweet stories and Cinderella.

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 chose the setting because it reminded me of New York City, where everyone is so busy they hardly see each other as they pass by.

What was the hardest thing about writing the book?

Finding the time. I was literally writing the story using pen and paper every moment I got.

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

Meghan Markle would be Mali and Patrick J. Adams would be Quin. I think they have great onscreen chemistry.

Have you written any other books?

Yes I have. I have two children’s’ books: Danny the Firefly and Don’t go Mango Picking. I also have a YA fantasy called Nika. The second installment for that book will be released this October, following an August cover reveal.

Are you in one or more critique groups or partnerships?

I have joined one or two critique groups but I have not actively participated due to time constraints. But I have a group of awesome friends who do not hesitate to pull my story apart if need be (LOL).

Do you write every day?

I try to but it does not always happen. I think I write more in bursts.

What authors do you like best? What genres do you like best?

Currently my favorite authors are Sarah J. Mass, Kresley Cole and JR Ward. I like fantasy, paranormal, romance and mysteries best. But I usually ready anything that’s fiction.

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

Italy, Spain, Greece and of course Japan.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

If you really want it never give up. If someone had told me 15 years ago I would be doing this I would have told them they were drunk. But here I am taking these steps, climbing the hurdles, and enjoying the satisfaction I get when I complete a story.

What is your favorite movie and why?

Pride and Prejudice. I like the old mannerisms of the characters. The traditions and the entire pomp and air of everyone in the story.

What advice would you give to your younger self? 

Write more.

Describe yourself in three words.

Determined, Creative, Passionate.

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

Not that I can think of (LOL).

Where can readers connect with you?

They can find me online at the following places:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/dhgibbsauthor

Website: www.dhgibbs.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/dhgibbsauthor

Newsletter, where readers can find out about upcoming releases: http://newsletter.dhgibbs.com/subscribe

Where can readers find your books?

All my books are on Amazon  but Nika is also on Google Play, Kobo, Nook, and iBooks.

Thanks for visiting today, D.H.!

Until next time,

Amy

Author Spotlight: John Lindermuth, Part Two

Today on Reade and Write I’m pleased to welcome back John Lindermuth. He’s here today to discuss his new re-release, The Tithing Herd. You may recall reading about him on Reade and Write about a year ago, when he visited to talk about two of his other books, Something So Divine and Shares the Darkness (if you’d like to take a look at that post, you’ll find it here)

Tell us about your new book.

The Tithing Herd might best be described as a traditional Western. That is, like other traditional Westerns, it might be seen as a morality play. It features an ex-lawman (hero) faced with first a moral crisis (does he seek revenge or justice? Should he seek revenge on those who murdered his brother rather than depend on the law to judge them?) and then a more physical challenge when the outlaws kidnap the woman he loves.

I should mention The Tithing Herd was originally published in electronic format several years ago by The Western Online, which has since gone defunct. I’m pleased Sundown Press decided to resurrect it in both print and electronic formats.

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Who is the audience for the book?

Anyone who likes a good story with adventure, suspense and a bit of romance.

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?

The story is set in New Mexico in the 1890s. The idea had its germination when I read about cash-strapped Mormons gathering herds of cattle and sheep to pay their tithe to the church. The plot developed from there.

What was the hardest thing about writing the book?

A story based in an historical era and/or setting requires more research than, perhaps, a contemporary tale. But I don’t consider that a hardship. I love research, though it can sometimes lead off into some unusual tangents.

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

If Hollywood should decide to make that kind of offer, I’d be delighted. Meanwhile, I’ll be happy if people find the premise interesting enough to want to read it.

Tell us about your other books, for those who may not have read your post from last year. 

The Tithing Herd is my 16th published novel. The majority are mysteries of one kind or another, including seven in my Sticks Hetrick series. This is my second (official) Western. I say that because though my Sheriff Tilghman series is set in the 19th century in Pennsylvania the first two books were billed as Westerns by the publisher.

Are you in one or more critique groups or partnerships?

I’ve never been in a traditional critique group but I do exchange views with some other writers and we do give one another feedback.

Do you write every day?

I think it’s a good practice and I try to do something every day, even if it’s no more than some scribbling in my journal. I don’t lock myself into a prescribed word count.

What authors do you like best? What genres do you like best?

I’m a serial reader. I read both fiction and non-fiction. In fiction, mysteries probably top the list but I also read many other genres as well. In non-fiction, anything that rouses my curiosity. Authors? Too big a list to mention and I’m constantly discovering new ones–both famous and unknowns.

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

Given a time machine and a good supply of penicillin, Africa in the 1920s/’30s. Aside from that, another trip to Mexico; a visit to South Korea to see all the changes since I lived there in the 1960s, and England.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

The same given by Stephen King and many others–read a lot and write a lot. It’s the only way to learn–and a heck of a lot of fun.

What is your favorite movie and why?

I’ve said this often before–The Gods Must Be Crazy I and II. Epic comedies with insight into human nature. Jamie Uys was a genius. And then there’s Hitchcock and the Coen brothers. So many other good films in so many classic genres, including drama, Westerns, mysteries.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Why wait so long to do the things you really want to do?

Describe yourself in three words.

Patient, loyal, driven.

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

What’s next? A publisher has the next Sticks Hetrick, another publisher has the next Sheriff Tilghman, and I’m nearing 20,000 words on another Western.

Where can readers connect with you?

Website: http://www.jrlindermuth.net

Amazon author’s page: http://www.amazon.com/author/jrlindermuth

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/john.lindermuth

Facebook author’s page: https://www.facebook.com/John-Lindermuth-175253187537/?fref=ts

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jrlindermuth

Where can readers find your books?

Sundown Press.com, Amazon, B&N, most everywhere good books can be found.

Thanks for stopping in today, John! It was a pleasure having you back on Reade and Write.

Until next time,

Amy

Author Spotlight: Ritter Ames

Today on Reade and Write I welcome Ritter Ames for our special Fourth of July edition of the Author Spotlight. Ritter is the author of two mystery series: The Bodies of Art Mysteries and the Organized Mysteries (I need to run, not walk, to get this series. Organization is often a mystery to me). She’s here today to discuss her most recent release, Fatal Forgeries. Glad to have you here, Ritter!

Tell me about your new book.

My June 2017 release is Fatal Forgeries, the fourth book in the Bodies of Art Mysteries. It begins with my main character, Laurel Beacham, in the process of rescuing a stolen masterpiece—then everything goes sideways and she scrambles to find a way to get things back on-track.

Who is the audience for the book?

Anyone who likes to read fast paced books with smart characters, quick dialogue, art crime, and amazing settings.

Speaking of amazing settings, 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?

London acts as kind of the hub for this series of novels. In each title, however, the crimes take my characters to different European locations as Laurel and her crew track the masterpieces and the master criminals. For Fatal Forgeries, the action runs from London to Barcelona and back.

What was the hardest thing about writing the book?

Figuring out the title each time, and deciding how Laurel is going to lose her luggage.

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

In a perfect world, I’d love Grace Kelly to play Laurel and Cary Grant to play Jack. I have an idea for contemporary actors for both, but I think I’ll just leave it at that.

Tell us about your other books. 

There are three more books in the Bodies of Art Mystery series, and two books published in the Organized Mysteries, with another to be released soon. I also have another Organized Mystery I’ll be releasing in the coming months, and the first in a new cozy series will be out by the end of the year.

Are you in one or more critique groups or partnerships?

Not anymore. I’ve been in three different groups through the years, but between beta readers, my editors, and just really kind of being a veteran of these series by now, I’m out of the group mindset.

Do you write every day?

Yes. A minimum of 1000 words, no matter how hard it is to get them written in a chaotic day. Usually I average about 5000 words a day.

What authors do you like best? What genres do you like best?

I’m a very eclectic reader, but mysteries are my overall go-to. This summer I’m rereading the Jackson Brodie series by Kate Atkinson, but since the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter just passed I’m really tempted to reread that series, too. One author I now have to read as soon as possible is Christopher Fowler, but there are truly too many to name. I dearly love reading series fiction—whatever the genre. When I get invested in characters I want to always know what happens to them next.

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

Switzerland. I’ve never made it there for some reason, but I’ve dreamed about going to that country since the fourth grade.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Just write. There will always be someone or something that will try to say you can’t do it. Don’t listen. Anything can be improved with revision, but you must get it written first.

What is your favorite movie and why?

Oh, that’s tough. There are three movies I can think of that I ALWAYS sit down and view again when they come on the schedule—no matter how many times I’ve already watched them: His Girl Friday with Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell, Ocean’s Eleven with Clooney & company, and Casino Royale with Daniel Craig. They’re all so different, but they each have the kinds of things I love in characters and a story—the characters are smart & brave & operate with their own personal integrity, the dialogue is fast & witty, and the stories all revolve around a stellar crime.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Start writing sooner. And take marketing courses in college!

Describe yourself in three words.

Curious, capable, constant. And no, I didn’t mean to start each word with the same letter, they just came out that way.

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

Nothing I can think of.

Where can readers connect with you?

I’m everywhere online—

My Facebook page:   https://www.facebook.com/RitterAmesBooks/

My Twitter page:      https://twitter.com/RitterAmes

My website:                http://www.ritterames.com

Where can readers find your books?

My Amazon page:         https://www.amazon.com/Ritter-Ames/e/B00I78AQEW/

Or for all booksellers:    https://ritterames.com/heres-where-to-buy-my-books/

Ritter, thank you for being my guest today. 

Amy, thanks so much for inviting me to your blog. This has been fun!

I wish everyone in the United States a happy, safe Fourth of July!

Until next time,

Amy

 

Author Spotlight: Linda Berry

Today’s guest author is Linda Berry, whose new book, Pretty Corpse, was recently released. It’s getting fantastic reviews on Amazon and I’m honored to have Linda here today to talk about the book. The subject matter of the story is a little out of my comfort zone, but in Linda’s capable hands I think I’m going to enjoy it. I invite you to share your comments at the end of the post, but please note that Linda is very busy this week with promotion and other activities and may not be able to respond right away.

Tell us about Pretty Corpse.

The year is 1999. A serial rapist is targeting teen girls in San Francisco. While on patrol, Officer Lauren Starkley discovers one of the victims, and she’s shocked to find out the girl is a close friend of her daughter. The case instantly becomes intensely personal. Because she isn’t a detective, Lauren is restricted from investigating, but she does so nonetheless on her own time. Lauren has an uncanny ability to find obscure clues and link them together. Her relentless pursuit of the rapist draws her deeper into his world. He in turn, starts getting closer to Lauren and her daughter. Lauren needs to lure him out of hiding, fast, before her daughter becomes his next victim.

Your novels are filled with an interesting mix of characters. Tell us about that. 

My stories reflect the range of characters each of us knows in real life. We all have people we admire, people who threaten us or are just plain loony. I like to keep readers alert and surprised by creating several interrelated stories that and ebb and flow through the main story. We are all multi-dimensional, and have many stories happening simultaneously in our lives, and sometimes conflict erupts on many fronts. I like to get into those emotional tsunamis and explore a person’s breaking point, and how they deal with the challenge. Complex characters that are bitterly wounded or pathologically twisted are interesting to me. I like to contrast the most vile and repugnant aspects of human nature to the most heroic and noble, and throw some quirky characters in for good measure.

How did you research this police thriller?

To write authentically, I do extensive research. That doesn’t mean I let my fingers do the walking. I have to give a big thank you to the police officers at Mission Station in San Francisco in 2001, when I wrote this first draft. My research for Pretty Corpse came in the form of dozens of ride-alongs I did with various female patrol officers. I chose the night shift when the city was rife with criminal activity, and I got to see these courageous women in action. Several of my characters were inspired by the female cops I came to know, and also by the captain of the station, who gave generously of his time to help me authenticate my writing. Many of the side stories in Pretty Corpse are based on actual events relayed to me by police officers from Mission Station. 

Where do you write?

I write in a sunny office in my home overlooking a canal and peaceful wooded area. I live in Central Oregon, a resort town in the shadow of the Cascade Mountains.

You were an award-winning copywriter and art director for twenty-five years, and worked part of that time for the film industry. How did that experience shape your decision to become a novelist?

I had the privilege of collaborating with talented writers and some of the best editors in the business. I love books and have been an avid reader my entire life. I wrote novels as a passionate hobby. In fact, my three novels released this year by Winter Goose Publishing are the result of my efforts spanning a decade. Now that I’m retired, I write every day. It’s so much easier to produce good work when you can keep your train of thought moving forward, and are not constantly interrupted. 

What do you love most about your work?

I love the creative process itself—the challenge of developing and constructing plots that continually surprise the reader and hold them in a state of suspense. Writing is both a passion and a compulsion—a truly satisfying form of escape. My reward comes when a reader tells me they couldn’t put my book down and they talk about my characters as though they’re real people. Then I know I did my job well.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Happiness comes to me in many forms. Appreciation of life itself is the foundation of happiness. I find this planet miraculous, from subatomic matter to the galaxies in space. I enjoy the beauty of ecosystems, how so many forms of life—plants, birds, mammals, reptiles, insects—the smallest creature to the largest, are dependent on each other for survival. My idea of perfect happiness is living on a healthy planet where people live together in peace and are trusted guardians of nature.

What is your greatest fear?

Being impoverished, homeless, or mentally or physically impaired and dependent on others. I did undergo some terrible threats to my health six years ago. I had a bout of debilitating pain for about 8 months, which diminished my ability to enjoy life. I’m now completely recovered, and feel I’ve been given a second chance at life. The experience sharpened my awareness of how fragile life is, how it can be taken away in an instant, and how one might be forced to languish in pain for a period of time. It heightened my appreciation for the quality of life I have now, for every precious moment I’m healthy and independent.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

Lack of patience. Sometimes I get caught up in the everyday demands of life, and the illusion that I don’t have enough time to do everything I want to do.  I have to remind myself at times to live in the moment, address what is happening right in front of me, and listen to people, even when I feel I’m short on time. Giving another human being a few minutes of conversation can make a huge difference in that person’s life. Kindness goes a long way.

Who in your profession do you most admire?

I read everything, and admire countless writers, from journalists to screen writers to poets to authors. I especially love mysteries, and I read an average of two books a week. If the writing is solid, and the story is well-constructed, I’ll read it regardless of genre.

What is your greatest extravagance?

Disconnecting from the world. Getting out in nature with my husband and our dog in our motorhome. I love being on a lazy schedule and disconnecting from social media, where the only decision I have to make is when to eat and what hikes to take. I can write in uninterrupted peace for hours at a time, surrounded by nature, sometimes listening to the gentle patter of rain, watching water drip off leaves. I love going to national parks, off season. We went to Bryce and Zion and Arches and the Grand Canyon two years ago. Last year we went to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons, and this year we may be going to Yosemite.

On what occasion would you lie?

I don’t tell big extravagant lies, but I do tell baby lies frequently, mostly when complimenting people. For example: “no, your ass doesn’t look big in those jeans” or “you look marvelous” when in actuality, you look hungover, and you have stains on your shirt.

What do you dislike most in your work?

When I hit a brick wall and I have to stop writing, sometimes for days, while I process my story and play out different scenarios in my head. I never force the creative process. What generally helps me break through the logjam is reading. I’ll bury my nose in a good book, and before long, ideas start percolating to the surface. I also have a muse, my nail goddess, who’s held captive doing my mani/pedi for 2 hours, and I bounce ideas off her. She has a creative mind and has been a wonderful contributor to my stories for years.

When and where were you happiest in your work?

This current period in my life is the happiest. Now that I’m retired, I have the luxury of writing every day. I wake up eager to get to work. I take my coffee up to my sunny office and dig in. I believe I’m at my most happiest when my husband and I are traveling and we’re parked in a beautiful wilderness area and the peace of the place seeps into my bones. I can write with no interruption.

If you could, what would you change about myself?

I would take twenty years of physical wear and tear off my body. Mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, I would change nothing. If I had to lose twenty years of life experience to be in a younger body, I would say no. I’m more at peace with myself at this stage of life than I have ever been.

What is your greatest achievement in work?

Having three novels completed and coming out this year, 2017. It’s a wonderful sense of accomplishment to see the culmination of years of work and endless rewrites in a physical book. Hidden Part One and Pretty Corpse are out, and Hidden Part Two comes out in September. I’m expecting my fourth mystery, Quiet Scream, to be out in December or January.

What is your most marked characteristic?

My friendliness, and my sense of humor. I have always had a keen interest in people and I’m a good observer, passionately interested in humans and the world around me. I’m an optimist at heart, and I’ve been blessed with a jolly spirit. I enjoy socializing but the greater part of my waking life is spent in solitude, writing, reading, and doing projects.

What is your most inspirational location in your city?

I like to get out on the wilderness trails with friends and dogs. We have a beautiful river, the Deschutes, that meanders through town and its character changes every foot of the way. There are many meadows, sagebrush flats, waterfalls, and breathtaking views of the Cascade Range. The look of a wild river, the various sounds of water rushing, falling, cascading over boulders, is invigorating and soothing. Hiking clears my head of thoughts and worries and puts me in a state of peacefulness.

What is your best advice for beginning writers?

Write about something you love and then your passion will come out in your words. Write often, everyday, if possible. Read, read, read. I read one or two books a week, and I also watch movies and TV productions that tell good stories. I take notes. I have volumes of notes, and refer to them daily.

 

Watch Linda’s Youtube trailers:

Hidden: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-bNoFgaD9U&t=7s

Pretty Corpse: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7QHSvirTYdw&feature=youtu.be

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/linda.berry.94617 

Website: www.lindaberry.net

Twitter:@LindaBerry7272

Contact: lindaberrywriter@gmail.com

Best of luck with the new book, Linda!

Until next time,

Amy