Author Interview: Cindy Davis

Today I welcome author Cindy Davis to Reade and Write. I met Cindy on Twitter and was drawn first to the descriptions of her mysteries. As I learned more about her, I found that she also writes non-fiction books on topics ranging from self-editing to online dating to small dog breeding and more. She is originally from New Hampshire, but now enjoys living in Florida. So let’s get started.

Tell me about your mystery books.

A Little Murder is the first of my 6-book series set at Lake Winnipesaukee, NH. Angie Deacon is a high-maintenance ER nurse who buys a day of fishing for her husband’s birthday. A murder on the boat causes her to learn things about herself that were probably better off not brought out in the open.

Who is the audience for the series?

I write very complex plots with lots of twists and turns, so people who enjoy that sort of thing like my stories. I’ve never had anyone say they knew whodunit. Well, except that one person who said they knew on the first page, which was impossible because the murderer didn’t show up that early.

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 lived in New Hampshire at the time. I loved the Lakes Region with its beautiful scenery and small town charm. The setting provided many unique places to set murders. When I say that in mixed company (authors and regular people) I get a mixture of reactions. I was on the craft fair circuit and spent a lot of time there.

What was the hardest thing about writing the A Little Murder?

Deciding to add a police detective. When I set up the series, I determined it would be different from mysteries you buy at the bookstores—the books where you can tell the killer by page 5. I didn’t want police or a detective because they appear in all the stories. But by the time the murder happened in A Little Murder, I’d realized I needed someone to play off Angie—someone who could provide her with legitimate information by which to solve crimes. Detective Colby Jarvis was born. He’s a bit overweight and balding, a widower who works to keep from having to think about his life.

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

I can’t really answer this because I don’t watch television and I see very few movies. Although I always envisioned Cameron Diaz as Angie. FYI, the series is currently with a scriptwriter for submission to TV.

Have you written any other books?

I have a three-book cozy mystery series which features two thoroughly opposite women Phoebe (don’t call me that unless you have a death wish) Smith & (ex-Susie Homemaker) Westen Hughes. They are high-end insurance investigators. I developed this series to get away from murder mysteries and have some fun. I also have two stand-alone mysteries and two women’s fiction. See links below.

Are you in one or more critique groups or partnerships?

I belonged to a writers group for more than ten years. It was the best thing I ever did for my writing development. We ended up being good friends. The group only disbanded because three of us moved away. The right group can provide mentoring, education, and lifelong friendships.

Do you write every day?

Pretty much. I’m also an editor and sometimes my day job gets in the way. I’m currently working in a whole new genre—New Age. The first book is co-authored with my husband and is with our agent now.

Who are your favorite authors? Favorite genres?

I don’t really have a favorite genre. I enjoy any book that’s well written. Consequently, I have a number of favorite authors. A British author from the 70s, Ruth Rendell does amazing development. Ken Follett and James Michener feature amazing plots. Sandra Brown’s mysteries and Melinda Leigh’s emotion. I especially enjoyed Gone with the Wind because it incorporated adventure, history, romance, and even humor.

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

Rick and I have a ginormous bucket list. We’re going to Macchu Picchu, Peru, in December. Book three in the New Age trilogy will be set there, so it’s as much research as fun. We’re checking prices to Italy right now. Since I’ve already been there, I think my biggest bucket list item is to ride the Orient Express.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Two things. Never think you’re done learning. Keep striving to improve your writing skills. And second, get your book edited. Not by an English teacher. I know I’ll take some flack for this and I agree that teachers are awesome for punctuation and grammar, but they aren’t trained in story development or the fine-tuning it takes to bring your story to the next level—things like filter words, head hopping, and show don’t tell.

What is your favorite movie and why?

I stopped watching television and movies many years ago but I guess I’d say Romancing the Stone with Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas. I liked the quirky humor and adventurous, unique plot.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Gosh, so many things. I guess I’ll stick with the topic of writing and say I wish I’d started honing my craft earlier in my life.

Describe yourself in three words.

Youthful, curious, sarcastic.

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

Where I met my husband: Match.com. LOL. Just kidding, but I always like to talk about that. But no, your questions really made me think.

Where can readers connect with you?

I hang out on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Bookbub.

Where can readers find your books?

My books are on Amazon and my website.

Thanks so much for having me here. It was great fun.

And thank you, Cindy. It was lovely having you here. 

Until next time,

Amy

Meet Pamela Wight

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This week I welcome Pamela Wight to Reade and Write. Pam is the author of The Right Wrong Man and Twin Desires and I’m thrilled to have her on my blog! Bonus: I might even get to meet her this summer!

Tell me about your books.

I’ve published two romantic suspense novels: The Right Wrong Man and Twin Desires. What’s interesting is that the two main female characters in these books are extremely different from each other: Meredith (The Right Wrong Man) is feisty, funny, and self-confident. Sandra (Twin Desires) is shy, quiet, and unaware of her attractiveness.

The Right Wrong Man    Twin Desires

Who is the audience for your books?

Originally I thought my books would be read mostly by women; however, I dislike the phrase “women’s fiction,” because women read thrillers by men – like Harlan Coben and David Baldacci – so why shouldn’t men enjoy fast-paced mysteries and thrillers written by women? Turns out that they do! I’ve had many men read both of my books and enjoy them (and write great reviews).

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

I wrote Twin Desires (with co-author Ashley Brandt) while I was living in the San Francisco Bay area, and it’s set in San Francisco and the beautiful coastal area of Stinson Beach. I ran the same streets that Sandra does in the book and visited an adorable cottage with a water view in the town of Stinson, a house much like the one Sandra is holed up in against her will.

What was the hardest thing about writing the book?

You may think I’ll say writing with a co-author, but the opposite is true. Ashley and I had such fun plotting out the obstacles that Sandra and main man Blake Worthington fought through. As co-authors, we were on the ‘same page,’ so to speak, about our characters and built an entire storyline about them, so we knew what to expect from them. But, as always, the characters surprised us and changed the plot as the suspense thickened. I think the hardest thing about writing the book was ending it – we didn’t want to say goodbye to these characters!

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

Emily Stone would be a perfect Sandra Eastman in Twin Desires.
Ben Affleck is a good actor, and handsome, so he would play both Blake and Alex Worthington with aplomb. I can see the film in my mind’s eye, and it’s fabulous!

Emily Stone  Ben Affleck

⦁ Have you written any other books? And are you in one or more critique groups or partnerships?

I wrote The Right Wrong Man after Twin Desires (but published it first). I created scenes in 2-4 page ‘pods,’ then would file it away, busy with my paying job and raising a family. Finally, I got serious with finishing it and formed a critique group. We four writers met every two weeks for two hours for over a year. Taking turns, at one meeting two of us would print out and read three new chapters, which the others marked up and commented on them. Two weeks later, it was the other two writers’ turn. This critiquing was invaluable to me in fine-tuning and completing my book. I published it in 2013 as an e-book, then in a softback edition.

Do you write every day?

Yes.

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

I like all (fiction) genres. If the book is well-written, I soak it in. As Ray Bradbury wrote in his book about writing: “Read those authors who write the way you hope to write, those who think the way you would like to think. But also read those who do not think as you think or write as you want to write, and so be stimulated in directions you might not take for many years.”

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

At my New England writing table, with the window open overlooking forest and overhearing bird calls, I travel to San Francisco and Cambridge, the Caribbean and Switzerland, Hawaii and Florence, as well as destinations unknown.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Write. Read. Write. Read. Here at Reade and Write, I agree!

What is your favorite movie and why?

My first immediate answer is “Gone with the Wind.” I know it’s not PC now, but back when I was 11 and first saw the movie, I fell in love with the characters, the romance, the angst of unrequited love, and the reality of not seeing what’s right in front of you. I’ve watched the move over a dozen times since then, and receive the same reactions each time.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Write more. Read more. Write more. Read more.

Describe yourself in three words.

Creative. Loving. Kind.

Where can readers connect with you?

Website: www.roughwighting.net
Facebook: http://facebook.com/roughwighting
Twitter: https://twitter.com/pamelawight
Linked In: http://www.linkedin.com/in/pamelawight
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pam94920/

Where can readers find your books?

The Right Wrong Man is available in e-book and softback from Amazon (click here for link).
Twin Desires was published in e-book form in 2014, and the book’s second edition is available as softback on Amazon (click here for link), July, 2016.

Author Biography: Pamela Wight is a successful author of romantic suspense. Her first novel, The Right Wrong Man, got rave reviews for taking readers “on an exciting adventure with lots of intrigue, unexpected plot twists, and romance.” A year later, Wight published her second novel, Twin Desires, with Ashley Brandt as an e-book in 2014, and available in paperback in July, 2016.

Pamela earned her MA in English from Drew University, continued with postgraduate work at UC Berkeley in publishing, and teaches creative writing classes in Boston and San Francisco.

She lives in the Boston area with her “right man” and hikes the New England trails while concocting her third novel, As Lovely as a Lie. Wight travels frequently to the San Francisco Bay area for additional inspiration. She speaks to book clubs in both locations. Many readers enjoy her “weekly blog on daily living” called Roughwighting.

Thank you, Pam, for appearing on Reade and Write today!

Until next week,

Amy

 

 

 

 

Cover Reveal!

If you’ve visited my website in the past week or so (http://www.amymreade.com), you’ve already seen the cover for my new novel, The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor.

But if you haven’t, here it is!

The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor_ebook cover

I would make the picture bigger if only I could figure out how to do it.

The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor is set outside Charleston, South Carolina. It’s the story of Carleigh Warner, a specialist in building restoration who takes a job at an antebellum plantation that belongs to the family of an old college friend. Carleigh leaves Chicago with her daughter, Lucy, and arrives in South Carolina ready to begin work, but finds that members of the Peppernell family are at odds over the future of the plantation. The owner wants to change her will to provide for the management of the property by the state of South Carolina upon her death. But there are others who think the family would stand to benefit much more if the plantation were turned into a tourist destination and managed by an investment group.

Though Carleigh doesn’t want to get involved, emotions run high at Peppernell Manor and she is forced to take sides in the battle over the preservation of the manor and its property. And to make matters worse, someone doesn’t want Carleigh around. As violence visits the South Carolina plantation, Carleigh is left wondering whether she should go back to Chicago for her own, and Lucy’s, safety, or stay in the Lowcountry to make a new life for herself and her little girl.

Shameless plug: The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor is available for pre-order on Amazon. It’s not yet available for pre-order as a paperback, but only in ebook form. Here’s the link: http://www.amazon.com/Ghosts-Peppernell-Manor-Amy-Reade-ebook/dp/B00OEW5SR0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1416257542&sr=8-1&keywords=ghosts+of+peppernell+manor.

Pre-orders are important to authors and publishers, so if you’d like to read the ebook, please consider pre-ordering it! It comes out in April, 2015.

Location, Location, Location!

I have a friend who has lived in Indiana most of his life, except for going to college in Texas and working for a brief time in Washington, DC. He said to me recently that even though he only spent a few years in Texas, that state feels like home to him. I’m sure there are Texans wondering why everyone doesn’t feel that way.

I understand how he feels. A place can exert a powerful pull on a person, even if the person hasn’t spent much time there. Maybe it can happen even if the person hasn’t spent any time there.

That’s why book settings are so important. Could Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier take place anywhere but the Cornish coast of England? Could The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner take place anywhere but Mississippi? The setting of a story is often its most essential element; in other words, there are stories that simply wouldn’t make sense if they were set somewhere else. IfRebecca took place in Paris, the story wouldn’t have the same heavy atmosphere and spookiness that it has in Cornwall. If The Sound and the Fury were set in small-town Vermont, what would be the source of Quentin’s cultural angst?

Secrets of Hallstead House is set in the Thousand Islands, one of those places that has a strong pull for those who have spent any time there. I don’t know of a single person who has been to the Thousand Islands who didn’t want to return. Could my story be set somewhere else? Not as far as I’m concerned. The St. Lawrence River and Hallstead Island are characters in the story just as much as any of the humans are.

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The same is true with The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor, my story set near Charleston, South Carolina. That’s another place that stays with a person. Have you ever been to Charleston? It’s inhabitants are passionate about their city, much more so than lots of other cities. And I can see why–it’s a beautiful city with a rich history and culture all its own. It’s like no other city in the South.

I am lucky enough to live in a place which has that pull, a place that people return to year after year (particularly in the summertime). When I first moved here, I was amazed at the number of kids who went away to college and wanted nothing more than to return to their hometown to find work upon graduation. Their happy memories of many seasons spent at the beach, of surf and sand, of the boardwalk and sunrises over the Atlantic Ocean are strong enough to make those people want to return.

So in that same vein, my third story, as yet unnamed but tentatively entitled Hanging Jade Hale, (pronounced “hah-lay”), is set on the Big Island of Hawaii. I know of exactly two people who have been to Hawaii and didn’t absolutely love it. It’s a place where people experience a kind of magic that is only found there, a magic that comes from the ocean and the mountains and the trade winds and the knowledge that Hawaii is alone in the vastness of the Pacific Ocean. A story set there can’t take place anywhere else in the world, and that makes its setting special.

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Is there a place that calls you back, even if you’ve never been there? I’d love to hear about it!

Until next week,

Amy

This Blog’s Hopping!

This week I’m participating in the “My Writing Process” Blog Hop again. Many thanks to Annette Snyder for inviting me to join the fun.

If you’ve read Annette’s books, you know how good they are. If you haven’t, give them a try! Her book Intimate Flames was a 2011 EPIC Finalist, and her Travis Pass series is not to be missed. I am a big fan of her Fifty Authors from Fifty States, which highlights an author every Sunday that lives and writes in a different state. Annette’s website is http://annettesnyder.atspace.com and her blog can be found at http://annettesnyder.blogspot.com.

And now to the questions:
1. What am I working on?
Good news! This past Friday I emailed the manuscript of my second novel, The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor, to my editor at Kensington Publishing. Before long I’ll start the revisions on it. In the meantime, I am promoting my first novel, Secrets of Hallstead House, and tomorrow I’ll start work on my third novel, which will be set in Hawaii. I can hardly wait.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
My books have a strong sense of place, so hopefully my readers will want to visit the places I write about. The romance is sweet and the suspense is not gory or terribly violent.

3. Why do I write what I do?
I love to read romantic suspense, so that’s what I love to write, too.

4. How does my writing process work?
I make a thorough outline before I start writing. I have a notebook filled with sections for research, characters, chronology, and plotting, among others. I refer to the notebook constantly while I write. The entire notebook is handwritten, though when I finally start writing I do it on the computer. I write at all different times of the day, depending on what else I have happening on any given day.

Now that I’ve answered the four burning questions, I will tell you where “My Writing Process” is going next Monday.

The first hop is to author J. L. Greger. She took early retirement from being a biology professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has now had three medical thriller/mysteries published – Coming Flu, Murder: A New Way to Lose Weight, and Ignore the Pain. Her next novel, Malignancy, which is partially set in Cuba, should be out this fall. For more information on her novels, see her website (http://www.jlgreger.com) and her blog (http://jlgregerblog.blogspot.com).

The second hop is to Amy M. Bennett. Amy is the author of the Black Horse Campground mystery series, published by OAK TREE PRESS. Her debut novel, “End of the Road, published in July 2013, won the 2012 Dark Oak Mystery Contest and is the first book in the series. No Lifeguard on Duty, the second book in the series, was released April 2014. You can visit Amy on the web at http://www.amymbennettbooks.com and at http://amymbennettbooks.blogspot.com/.

And last, but certainly not least, hop on over to Vanessa Coggshall. With two children and one on the way (very soon!), Vanessa seeks to balance the mom/writer lifestyle on a daily basis. She is currently working on a memoir which focuses on life with her three year old, Emmy, who was diagnosed with Williams Syndrome as a baby. Vanessa also just helped edit and publish an anthology written by parents, friends, and family members of children with Williams Syndrome. She blogs about her life experiences with her children and husband at Williams Syndrome Smile (http://williamssyndromesmile.com).

I urge you to visit these authors next Monday, when they post their own answers to the questions in the “My Writing Process” Blog Hop. They have very different interests and experiences, and their writing reflects these differences. They’re all fascinating, and I’m proud to call them colleagues.

Until next week,

Amy

Blog Hopping!

This week’s blog is coming a little early. I’m participating in a blog-hop at the invitation of Joyce Ann Brown, author of some very fun cozy mystery stories. I recommend a visit to her blog at http://www.retirementchoicescozymystery.wordpress.com.

So here are my answers to the burning questions:

1. What am I working on now?

I am currently working on my second novel, with a tentative title of Low Country Twilight. It’s the story of a restoration specialist who moves from Chicago to South Carolina with her little girl to restore an old plantation manor. While there, she discovers that the members of the household have hidden vices and secrets, and she slowly gets drawn into a web of suspicion and distrust that affect her job and her future happiness. I am enjoying the story and my goal is to have it finished by Easter. It is due to the publisher on June 1st, so I will have between April 20th and June 1st to revise and rewrite.

2. How is my writing different from others of the same genre?

My books are considered women’s fiction with a strong sense of suspense and setting. I like to write about places I know well, and I hope that the love I have for the places I write about shows in my stories. Though my books are in the genre of romantic suspense, they contain light, sweet romance and suspense that is not too violent or gory. I like to write the types of books that I read.

3. Why do I write what I do?

That’s easy, and I have already given the short answer: I write what I like to read. Growing up, one of my favorite authors was Phyllis A. Whitney, author of a huge number of romantic suspense books and my personal hero. She was a prolific author who wrote past age 100, and her protagonists were always strong women who dealt with adversity head-on and came out stronger for it.

This is not to say that I don’t love other genres, too. I am a huge fan of historical fiction and biographies. I also love thrillers. If you read some of the older posts on my blog, you’ll see that I simply love books, and my favorites run the gamut from Jane Austen to Ernest Hemingway to M.C. Beaton.

4. How does your writing process work?

I have addressed this issue in past blog posts, too. I like to plot out my stories long before I start writing them. I make up my characters and their personal histories. I like to plot out the scenes before I stitch them together. I draw pictures of the places where the action occurs. I research, research, research. I get an entire story written down before I start revising. I keep a list of things that I know need extra attention on the second pass-through, but I don’t do any rewriting until the story is completed.

I love every single minute of the writing process, whether it’s research, plotting, writing the first draft, revising and editing, writing the final draft, writing any draft in between, doing copy edits, or doing page proofs.

This blog hop didn’t ask, but I figured I’d plug my first book anyways, which is coming out in July 2014 by Kensington Publishing. It’s called Secrets of Hallstead House. It is the story of a young woman who moves from Manhattan to a secluded home in the Thousand Islands to take a job as the private nurse to an elderly woman. While there, she discovers that the people who live on the island harbor dangerous secrets that she was never meant to learn. She must face those secrets if she is to stay alive and find happiness.

I invite you to visit my website at http://www.amymreade.com or to follow my blog and leave comments on the things you read. I usually post on Tuesdays on subjects ranging from writing to reading to volunteering to things to do for fun.

I also invite you to stop by again to see who I’ve tagged next in the blog hop!

Until next week,

Amy