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

How valued Readers can become valued Reviewers!!

Susan Toy nails it in this quick post about writing reviews. If you read a book, the best thing you can do is to tell people about it. And if you’re shy, email the author and tell him or her personally…it really is that easy.

Books: Publishing, Reading, Writing

If you have read Island in the Clouds or One Woman’s Island or That Last Summer (or all three!) and enjoyed reading them – but you haven’t yet posted any reviews online, I would appreciate you doing so now, on Goodreads, Amazon, Kobo, iTunes, your library’s website, or your own blog. I’m hoping to build up awareness for my writing in general to create a solid fan base in place to do the heavy-lifting of informing and, hopefully, exciting different and new-to-me readers about any future publications. If you have already posted something to do with me or my writing on your own blog I have likely added that link to this page, this page, or this one. If your interview or review are not listed there, please let me know so I can include you.

Now, I know some readers are shy and don’t want their…

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My Top Five Favorite Places to Visit: Washington, DC, Edition

I recently had occasion to visit Washington, DC, on a research trip. My work-in-progress takes place in Washington and I needed to see first-hand the places where my protagonist works and lives and where she goes to do research. I lived in Washington for a very short time many years ago, and though I remember the experience fondly, my memories of some of the neighborhoods in the capital city aren’t crystal-clear. But my research trip wasn’t all research–I played the role of tourist, too. I got thinking that for my blog post this week, it would be great to share some of my favorite places in and around Washington.

 

Mount Vernon. Located not far from the US capital in Mount Vernon, Virginia, this is the plantation home that belonged to George Washington. My daughter and I visited Mount Vernon in March and both of us loved the experience. I was surprised to learn that Mount Vernon is not a national park. In fact, it is owned by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association of the Union and the organization does a beautiful job of maintaining the buildings and the grounds for visitors. There is a working farm, a beautiful learning center where you can watch a fascinating movie about George and Martha Washington and about the estate in general, a boat landing, the plantation house, outbuildings that are open to visitors, and so much more to see. One of my favorite parts of our visit was looking at the Potomac River from the veranda of the house, which sits on a hill with a majestic view of the river in both directions.

 

 

International Spy Museum. My son and I had occasion to visit the International Spy Museum on a Boy Scout trip to Washington a couple years ago. Hands-down, it was my favorite part of that trip. Ever wanted to know how the KGB assassinated a Soviet dissident in London? Ever wondered how the CIA used to hide cyanide pills? Ever suspected the Romanians of listening in on your conversations? The answers to these mysteries and so many more are in the museum. I highly recommend a visit!

  

Ford’s Theatre. History buffs will know this as the place where President Abraham Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth. Visitors can see the box where President and Mrs. Lincoln were sitting that fateful night; the docents willingly share their extensive knowledge of both the assassination and its immediate aftermath. If you get a chance to visit Ford’s Theatre, make a bonus stop at the Petersen House (it’s right across the street). This is the private home where Lincoln died on the morning of April 15, 1865. You’ll see the important rooms of the house where historical figures came together to pay their respects and to mourn the President’s passing.

  (photos courtesy of Pixabay/Mark Thomas)

Lincoln Memorial. And speaking of Abraham Lincoln, don’t miss a stop at the Lincoln Memorial. At the top of the steps of this building, you’ll find a huge statue of a seated Lincoln as well as gorgeous carvings of text from some of his most memorable speeches, such as the Gettysburg Address. Depending on the route you take to get to the Lincoln Memorial, you might also pass the World War II Memorial, the Reflecting Pool, and/or the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (one of the saddest things I’ve ever seen). From the Lincoln statue, turn around to see the Reflecting Pool and the Washington Monument.

Tudor Place (sorry, no photos of this one). Located above Georgetown, this property is a National Historic Landmark which was once the private home of George Washington’s step-granddaughter Martha and her husband, followed by generations of their family. Visitors can tour the grounds for free and tour the house for a small fee.

There are so many things to see and do in Washington, DC, that you’ll never lack for activities if you get a chance to visit. These are just my favorite places, and I encourage you to find some of  your own!

Until next time,

Amy

The Plastic Challenge: Go single-use plastics-free this June

I’m going to give this a try. Anyone else interested in doing it, too?

Life & Soul Magazine

Marine Conservation Society (MCS) is challenging people to go single-use plastic free in the month of June for as long as possible, be it a day, days or the whole month.

Single-use plastics are among the most persistent synthetic materials in existence and are now a significant and extensive marine pollutant.

MCS’s month-long campaign, The Plastic Challenge, which runs throughout June aims to change people’s attitudes towards single-use plastics particularly, as well as act as a fundraising initiative to help “save our seas”.

More than 8 million tons of plastic are dumped in the world’s oceans and seas every year. The plastic is frequently mistaken for food by fish and birds, causing damage to life throughout the seas.

MCS said: “The Plastic Challenge isn’t all about living completely plastic free – in this day and age that would be pretty near impossible.

“We [MCS] are challenging people to give up their lifestyle…

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Unforgettable

Something to remember this weekend.

Thinkin' Things Over

Farrell USMC

It was a beautiful crisp morning at Arlington Nation Cemetery about six years ago when we were visiting my father’s grave. Our youngest son, who was in the military, and his wife were with us. As we were walking toward another area we crossed paths with a young mother carrying her young daughter.

We overheard her whisper to her daughter, who we found out later had never met her father, “Let’s go see Daddy.” We were speechless by such a simple comment. We talked with the young mother walking with her to her husband’s grave. We hugged her. We cried with her. There wasn’t a dry eye among us. – Unforgettable.

On our next visit, she wasn’t there, but there were paper cut-out hearts and a toddler’s toys beneath his niche. The young mother will not let her daughter forget the father she never knew. – He is unforgettable.

Two years ago…

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Meet Nicole Fitton

What if your memories were not your memories?

What if the drug hailed as a cure became your curse, and ultimately your destruction?

These questions and more are explored in Nicole Fitton’s second novel, Forbidden Colours. 

forbidden-colours-high-resolution-version-2

Nicole Fitton is an author, freelance writer, former PR maven and marketer in the music industry, and currently works in healthcare in the UK. She and I are in a writers’ group called Mystery Authors International, and in that group we support each other through social media and blog posts. Each month one author is featured and the month of May belongs to Nicole. Though we haven’t met in person, we’ve had plenty of chats via email and social media and I can tell you she is a delightful person with wide-ranging interests and areas of expertise. One of her passions is science, so it’s not surprising that she delves into the world of medicine and pharmaceuticals in her latest novel.

Here’s a blurb to entice you:

Forbidden Colours is a gripping tale where nothing is quite as it seems. Neurologist Nick Campbell is all set to believe in the new drug Centoria, but when his patients start turning up dead he starts to wonder whether his faith has been blind.

Determined to uncover the truth, pharmaceutical employee Midori Yates and Dr. Nick Campbell find a conspiracy that is to have devastating consequences for both of them. Forbidden Colours is a clever contemporary thriller that has numerous twists and turns that will make your head spin! A book for bedtime? Maybe, but don’t expect to get any sleep!

I must confess that I haven’t read the book yet, but it’s on my list and I plan to read it in the next month or so, after I’ve fulfilled some reading obligations I’ve promised to other authors. The reviews I’ve seen are excellent and I can’t wait to read this one. I do love a good Robin Cook story, and the descriptions of Forbidden Colours are reminiscent of Cook’s writing.

Want more? Here’s a short excerpt, courtesy of Nicole herself.

Katzuko Yates eyed her daughter thoughtfully. A sense of apprehension gripped her. Those years in Japan were long ago; she wondered if she could be clear with her explanation. Even though buried, her memories continued to breathe under the mountain of life she’d lived. Dare she even speak of them? Could she speak of them? Their place of residence had become an unmarked grave in her history. Her family had a right to know, after everything that had happened. His world was dark and full of shadows; where would she begin? For over 25 years she had told no one. Now she was being drawn back into his world. It was a time she wanted to forget. The tie that had been bound to her so tightly was about to be broken.

I look forward to sharing a review of Forbidden Colours with you as soon as I get to it. In the meantime, I hope you’ll check out the book and give it a read. You can find the book here

Want to know more about Nicole? Here’s where she hangs out on social media:

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

Amazon Author Page

If you’re looking for more from Nicole, check out All Tomorrow’s Parties (click title for link) or the Successful Writers in 2016 Anthology, in which Nicole has a short story, “Soaring.”

My thanks to Nicole Fitton for providing me with so much fodder for a blog post! Congratulations on the new release and I wish you much success!

Until next time,

Amy

 

 

Sally Cronin is Back!

 

For many of us in the world of authors-marketing-ourselves, we know Sally Cronin as a treasure who selflessly promotes others, spotlighting their new books, re-showcasing their old ones, and offering endless encouragement and support to artists of all stripes.

But Sally is also an author, and a prolific one at that. Not only does she write blog posts that enlighten her readers on everything from the benefits of garlic to heart health to the weather in Ireland, but she also writes short stories and books, both fiction and nonfiction. And she’s here today to tell us about her latest work, What’s In a Name.

Welcome, Sally!

Thank you so much Amy for asking me over for an interview.. It is a real pleasure.

Tell me about your new book, What’s in a Name.

The short stories in this collection are about ordinary people who in some way bring their own unique spin on their names.  Can Alexander, a small boy with a mother who is a fan of Richard Burton, be great?  Can Clive conquer one of the most deadly predators in India?  There is romance, ghostly events, serial killers and those who need revenge and hopefully something for everyone who enjoys an eclectic mix of genres.

What made you decide to write about that particular subject?

Names are fascinating things. They often identify the decade you were born in and in the cases of some celebrities where you were conceived. We might be named after a favourite aunt or uncle in tribute and to keep their memory alive. In my case I was given the second name Georgina after my maternal grandmother. If we are named after someone famous it can also be a huge challenge to live up to their exploits. Imagine being called Napoleon, Caesar or Einstein!  The alphabet provided a great prompt for the stories and as there are stories for both male and females for each letter… There will be 52 tales by the time the second volume is finished.

How long did it take you to write it?

I spent about six months writing the stories and posting them on my blog. I wanted to get initial feedback before publishing and this was very useful. Also it was easier to fit in a story a week rather than sit down and write twenty all at once.

What was the hardest thing about writing the book?

Probably coming up with a different concept for each name. It helped when the name was previously owned by someone with exploits or historical connection as the story could be geared to something similar. Also I wanted to avoid offending anyone on and offline if depicting a less than reputable character!  I still wanted friends at the end of the book.

Do you see aspects of yourself in the stories?

Certainly I have used locations that I know and have visited for example in France, Ireland and Sri Lanka where I spent some of my childhood. From that perspective it uses my experiences but with 52 stories over the two volumes, I am going to have to get creative.

Tell us about some of the other books you’ve written.

My books are a mixed bag. Non-fiction relating to health and media and then fiction in the form of novels and collections of short stories. I love the discipline of non-fiction where things have to be exact if the book is to be taken seriously. This is why I always have a fiction book of some description on the go at the same time for some light relief.

Do you write in a solitary environment or do you like to be around other people, noise, etc. when you write? I suppose what I’m asking is, do you write at home or in a coffee shop or another location?

I share an office with my husband who is a book designer and we tend to get on with our own work and confer from time to time on specific projects. I cannot write if there are distractions or lots of noise. I love music but keep that for the treadmill or when we are out walking.

Do you write every day? What does a typical day look like for you?

I do write every day in one format or another. The blog is important to me and so is maintaining my social media platforms that I use for the promotions that I do for other authors. I spend an hour or so going through the overnight traffic and also boosting the posts that have been scheduled from midnight. I may then do one of the daily blog posts before getting on with a chapter of my latest book or a short story to post during the week. I do take breaks for shopping, cooking and exercise, but it is fair to say that when it comes to writing… I need to get a life!

Do you have a favorite story in What’s in a Name?

I do have a favourite and it is the story of the toddler Clive in Sri Lanka who finds himself in a dangerous place. I was his age when we lived there and my first memories are of my amah pulling me away from danger. Touching any of the wildlife could be lethal as rabies was rampant even in the dogs and of course plenty of poisonous insects and predators. But I also remember the smell of curry, the warmth of the sun and swimming with my sisters.

Did you design the cover? If so, what’s in the background of the picture?

The photograph of the peacock was taken in the royal gardens of the king’s palace in Madrid when we took my mother and sisters there when they visited in 2000.  We took a number of shots and so we can use a slightly different one for the second volume.  My husband designs my covers and in the last few books I have used photographs that mean something to me.

Do you like to do readings, say at a bookstore or a library? Do you get many opportunities to read your work?

I did do some readings in the UK when I was living with my mother from 2008 to 2012 and had the opportunity. I loved it but we returned to Madrid  after my mother died and of course the language was an issue. This is another reason to get some of my books translated into Spanish at some point.  Since coming back to Ireland last year we have been focused on getting our new home finished but I am keeping an eye open for book festivals coming up in the summer.

What’s next on your writing horizon?

I have three books that are on their way to the final process. Two non-fiction, one on surviving modern life and some of my thoughts on why we find ourselves at odds with the world at times. The other is a people management manual for home and work… There are parallels including working with outside contractors, communicating with those in authority, and teenagers! I am nearly finished with volume two of What’s in a Name and then I must make a start with the sequel to Tales from the Garden which will be set in Ireland.

Where can readers find your books?

My books are all on Amazon, most in print and Ebooks.

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6

My books are also available via my own publishing site, some at a reduced price.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books/

And where can readers find you on social media?

Blog: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sgc58

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sally.cronin

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7979187.Sally_Cronin

It has been such a treat having you on Reade and Write, Sally. I hope you’ll come back again sometime!

Thank you again Amy for asking me over.

Until next week,

Amy