Category Archives: Author interviews

Meet author – Debbie De Louise

Debbie De Louise is an award-winning author and a reference librarian at a public debbielibrary on Long Island. She is a member of International Thriller Writers, Sisters-in-Crime, the Long Island Authors Group, and the Cat Writer’s Association. She has a BA in English and an MLS in Library Science from Long Island University. Her novels include the three books of the Cobble Cove cozy mystery series published by Solstice Publishing: A Stone’s Throw, Between a Rock and a Hard Place ***, and Written in Stone. Debbie has also published a romantic comedy novella featuring a jewel heist caper, When Jack Trumps Ace, a paranormal romance, Cloudy Rainbow, and has written articles and short stories for several anthologies of various genres. She lives on Long Island with her husband Anthony, daughter Holly, and Cat Stripey. (*** scroll to the end of this blog for a chance to download this book for free)

Debbie is proud to announce the release of the 4th book of her Cobble Cove Mystery series, Love on the Rocks. eBook & Kindle Unlimited: mybook.to/cc4 Debbie - teaserPaperback: mybook.to/cc4pap

Here’s what it’s all about …

When Alicia helps plan a Valentine’s Day Party at the Cobble Cove library that also includes a surprise for her newlywed friend, Gilly, things go wrong when a mysterious box of chocolates addressed to the director turns out laced with poison.

Clues Lead to A Dead Suspect

Although Alicia promised John she’ll no longer meddle in crime investigations, she and Gilly set out to find the person threatening Sheila who murdered the courier of the Debbie Love on the rocks-001 (1) (2)deadly candy. The three people they suspect include the professor from California who’s been romancing Sheila while she assists him with research for his book; the obnoxious patron Rhonda Kleisman who threw coffee at the director after refusing to pay for a damaged book; and a visiting widow staying at Gilly’s inn who’s unnaturally curious about Sheila and earns the nickname of Madame DeFarge for her interest in knitting.

 While Alicia and Gilly are trying to solve this new Cobble Cove mystery, Sneaky is introduced to Gilly’s new kitten, Kittykai, a calico she brought home from her honeymoon in Hawaii. It’s not like at first sight, but the two cats eventually become friends. They also both play a part in foiling the killer’s murder attempts, but will Alicia and Sheila survive unscathed?

Excerpt: “Alicia, come with me to the Reference Desk. I left a few more decorations there and can use a hand putting them up.”

Alicia followed Sheila back to the desk admiring the paper hearts and flowers hanging from the library’s ceilings and the red streamers that lay across the stacks. Two huge red hearts graced a banner strung across the entranceway over the turnstiles. In the center of each, handwritten in glittery purple script were the names of her best friend and new husband – Gilly and Ron. She knew Gilly would be glad they used her nickname but wasn’t sure the sheriff would approve of the use of his first name. Most of the town resident’s knew him as Ramsay.

Sheila ran around the desk pulling out drawers. She reminded Alicia of a hen tending her chickens. “Gilly and Ramsay are going to be so surprised.”

Alicia agreed. The idea for a combination wedding and Valentine’s Day party was hatched up by Sheila, and it was a great thought. The rest of the staff was busy upstairs where the party would be held arranging more decorations there and putting out all the home-cooked dishes they’d prepared along with the red, pink, and white sheet cake that would be served for dessert.

“What’s this?” Sheila paused in her tossing of decorations atop the desk.

Alicia came over to see what had grabbed the director’s attention. A velvet shaped heart box sat by one of the computer stations. As Alicia came closer, she could see a post-it attached to it with the words, “To Sheila from your secret admirer.”

Sheila smiled. “That Ryan. He knows I have a sweet tooth and am particularly fond of chocolates.” She opened the lid. “My favorites. I know I should wait for the party, but these are just too appealing.”

Alicia watched as Sheila took a few pieces and bit into them. Only a few seconds after she swallowed, her smile faded. She began to choke and clutched her throat.

“Sheila, are you okay?” Alicia rushed over afraid she wouldn’t recall how to do the Heimlich maneuver, but Sheila had already passed out on the floor. “Help!” Alicia called racing to the stairs. The romantic music playing above her drowned out her voice. Just as she grabbed her cell phone to dial 911, Ryan Anderson walked through the door, a huge bouquet of roses in his arms. He stopped short seeing Sheila on the ground. “What happened. Oh, My God!”

“I’m dialing 911 right now,” Alicia said. “She ate some of your chocolates and then passed out. I’m not sure if she choked on a piece.”

“My chocolates? I didn’t get her any chocolates. I was bringing her these flowers.” He dropped them on the desk and then knelt down and started administering CPR to Sheila’s unmoving body.

….

FREE OFFER

The second book of my Cobble Cove cozy mystery series is free on Thursday, October 25 and Friday, October 26. You can get it here on those Debbie - betweenarockandahardplacefreeteaserdays: mybook.to/CobbleCove2

If you’re a Kindle Unlimited subscriber, all my eBooks are free. Check them out on my author page: Author.to/DebbieDeLouise

Synopsis: Librarian Alicia McKinney has put the past behind her…

Two years ago, Alicia discovered both a terrible truth and lasting love with John McKinney in the small town of Cobble Cove, New York. Now a busy mother of twin babies and co-author of a mystery series, Alicia couldn’t be happier.

Alicia’s contentment and safety are challenged…

Walking home alone from the library, Alicia senses someone following her, and on more than one occasion, she believes she is being watched. Does she have a stalker? When the local gift shop is burgled, the troubling event causes unrest among Alicia and the residents of the quiet town.

John and Alicia receive an offer they can’t refuse…

When John’s sister offers to babysit while she and John take a much-needed vacation in New York City, Alicia is reluctant to leave her children because of the disturbances in Cobble Cove. John assures her the town is safe in the hands of Sheriff-elect Ramsay. Although Alicia’s experience with and dislike of the former Long Island detective don’t alleviate her concern, she and John take their trip.

Alicia faces her worst nightmare…

The McKinneys’ vacation is cut short when they learn their babies have been kidnapped and John’s sister shot. Alicia and John’s situation puts them between a rock and a hard place when the main suspect is found dead before the ransom is paid. In order to save their children, the McKinneys race against the clock to solve a mystery more puzzling than those found in their own books. Can they do it before time runs out?

Download for free to find out!!

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Meet Author – Donna Alice Patton

 Donna Alice Patton is a gardening enthusiast from the Midwest who has won numerous donna-alice-patton-1trophies and ribbons for her flowers and vegetables. In the winter, when she can’t play in the dirt, she soothes her creativity by writing instead. She’s the author of five books for children including: Saddle Up!  – based on a real-life California horse camp, and a finalist in the 2017 Silver Spur Awards from the Western Writers of America, as well as Snipped in the Bud: A Tale from the Garden of Mysteries.

 What is the title of your latest book? The Mystery in the Maze – Book Two in the Maggie and Em series. When a friend tells them about an overgrown maze and a Donna 1missing treasure in gold coins, the twins are off on another adventure!

Blurb: What do ten silver dollars, an invasion of annoying relatives and a cackling voice in a mysterious, overgrown maze have in common? Eleven-year-old Maggie Brandenburg! While most of the US suffers through the Great Depression of the 1930s, all Maggie’s first-wish-on-a-star dreams have come true. Her family has a new home. Maggie and her twin sister, Em, are enjoying school and their first ever new bicycles. Best of all, her parents aren’t struggling to make a living. Life would be a bowl of cherries – except for those pesky, lip-biting worries.  If those vanished silver dollars aren’t found. . . if the relatives can’t be helped . . . and if that maze didn’t hold so many mysteries! Mysteries that are squeezing all the happiness out of Maggie’s dreams.  Can Maggie find her way through the tangled maze before time runs out?

 What are the most challenging aspects of being a writer? And the most rewarding? The most challenging aspects are the social media and non-writing related activities.  Self-promotion does not come easily to me! The most rewarding aspect is just writing and finishing a story – having it feel ‘done.’

What is your top tip for an aspiring writer? Keep writing! Don’t stop or be discouraged because publication doesn’t happen right away. Try new things like entering contests or writing something different. 

What are you working on at the moment? At the moment, I’m doing the final editing of a western for children. It’s part of a series – wish I could think of a clever name – but right now I call them the Jenny books. This one is The Cattle Rustling Catastrophe. It’s almost ready to send to the publisher. 

What do you like to read? My reading habits are hard to pin down!  I’m interested in just about everything. Currently I’m on an armchair travel kick – reading Heidi’s Alps, A Walk in the Woods, The Hitchhiker’s Diary, etc. Mysteries, westerns and historical fiction never let me down! 

Where can readers find you?

Donna 2Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/Books-by-Donna-Alice-Patton- 1111365852244019/

Website: www.donnaalicepatton.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/donnaalice22@donnaalice22

Blogs:  http://www.layers-of-life@blogspot.com

http://www.myvintagepointofview@blogspot.com

 

 

 

Meet Author – Nancy Wood

Nancy grew up in various locations on the east coast of America, and now calls central California nancy_wood_author_photohome. She retired recently, having spent 35 years as a technical writer – translating engineer-speak into words and sentences, which she describes as like translating ancient Greek, where you’re not too familiar with the Greek part!

From September, 2016 to August, 2017, she and her husband wandered across the planet, visiting France, Spain, England, Sri Lanka, and New Zealand, ending up in the delightful city of Ghent, Belgium for three months. They’re still on the move, having just returned from Amsterdam, where they participated in a home exchange. They’ll be travelling in India in December and January. You can check out their travel blog at: hansandnancy.wordpress.com. In addition to travelling and writing, Nancy is a keen photographer, especially macro photography. She keeps a photography blog at: nancywoodphotos.wordpress.com.

What is the title of your latest book? My latest book is called The Stork. It was released by Solstice Publishing in February 2018. It’s the second book in the Shelby McDougall series. This book picks up Shelby’s life five and one-half years after the events in Book 1, Due Date. The Stork can be read after Due Date or as a standalone. I included plenty of backstory for a couple of reasons: I didn’t want to require that readers read Due Date before reading The Stork. And, because of the gap between the two books (six years), I knew that no one would remember any of the characters or the story line!

Book blurb for The Stork: It’s been five and a half years, and Shelby McDougall is finally on track. Back in Santa Cruz, California, she’s sharing an apartment with her nancy the stork-001brother, and is in her second year of criminal justice studies. She’s landed her dream job as intern to local PI Kathleen Bennett. And her stone-cold love life is heating up. Her past is behind her. Almost.

A late-night phone call puts Shelby’s perfectly ordered life into a tailspin. One of the twins she put up for adoption has been kidnapped, snatched from his home in the middle of the night. There are no witnesses. After meeting the family, Shelby knows something is off. The adoptive parents tell her the children don’t sleep. They eat constantly, and their IQs are off the charts, qualifying them for either Ripley’s Believe It or Not or a sideshow act in the circus.

Against her better judgment, knowing that every cop in the state of California is doing their best to find this boy, Shelby agrees to help. By the time she realizes she’s up against something powerful, something evil, it’s almost too late. As Shelby fights for her life and that of the kidnapped boy, she learns the shocking truth about her babies. And she also discovers her own truth, a lesson she has to learn over and over: her best instincts might have unexpected, damaging, consequences.

What are the most challenging aspects of being a writer? And the most rewarding? Most challenging: Making the time to write. For me, it’s something I have to do every day; it’s truly a practice. Most rewarding: Holding the actual book with an actual cover in my hands!

What is your top tip for an aspiring writer? Don’t let your inner critic wear you down. It’s there, it’s persistent, and it’s deadly. Best ignored!

What are you working on at the moment? I’m working on the third, and final book, in the Shelby McDougall series. I have the plot figured out, and am currently working on outlining each chapter. Once that’s done, I’ll start to write.

What do you like to read? Before I decided to write a mystery, I never read crime fiction. Now, it’s all I read! When I was growing up, there was Agatha Christie and that was about it. Now, crime fiction includes any subgenre of literature you can think of. Literary, social, cultural, historical, romantic, horror: it all can be incorporated in a mystery. There’s something very compelling about a one-size-includes-all genre! I also love a series; getting to know a character over time and in multiple settings.

Where can readers find you?

  • Website: nancywoodbooks.wordpress.com
  • Email: nancywoodbooks@gmail.com
  • Buy links: 
  • The Stork: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B079N77LQ9
  • Due Date: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00876174M – About Due Date (Book 1 in the Shelby McDougall series): Surrogate mother, Shelby Nancy - due date-001McDougall, just fell for the biggest con of all—a scam that risks her life and the lives of her unborn twins. Twenty-three year-old Shelby McDougall is facing a mountain of student debt and a memory she’d just as soon forget. A Rolling Stone ad for a surrogate mother offers her a way to erase the loans and right her karmic place in the cosmos. Within a month, she’s signed a contract, relocated to Santa Cruz, California, and started fertility treatments. But intended parents Jackson and Diane Entwistle have their own agendaone that has nothing to do with diapers and lullabies. With her due date looming, and the clues piling up, Shelby must save herself and her twins. As she uses her wits to survive, Shelby learns the real meaning of the word “family.”

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Meet Author – Jim Cronin.

Jim CJim is a retired middle school science teacher, who now works part-time as an educator at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. He has been married for forty years to the love of his life. They raised two incredible sons, and now have four amazing grandchildren to spoil rotten.

Jim was born in Kansas City, Missouri and lived in Arlington, Virginia, before moving to Denver where he attended High School and eventually college at Colorado State University, graduating with a degree in Zoology and a teacher certification. He and his wife currently live near Denver in the small town of Parker.

After writing The Brin Archives trilogy, Jim wanted to try his hand at reaching a new audience. The idea of a nerdy teenager with few friends suddenly learning the fate of all earth depends on him struck him as a fun sci-fi adventure. He hopes you’ll find it fun too!

 What is the title of your latest book? Aeon Rises – Justin Madrid is your average teenJim C cover nerd, outcast among his peers because intense migraines result every time he tries to look at a video screen. No computer games, no smart phone, nothing the other kids enjoy. Then, out of the blue, the aliens try to kill him. That was the day everything changed. That was the day he learned he was not who he always believed, and that the fate of humans everywhere depended on him. [You can read chapter one of Aeon Rises at the end of this blog.]

 What are the most challenging aspects of being a writer? And the most rewarding? – The most challenging is getting all that crazy grammar and punctuation right. I was a science teacher after all, not language arts. The easiest part is simply listening to the voices in my head as the characters in the stories tell me what is going on with them. My job is easy. I write down what they tell me.

The most rewarding part is completing a new novel. There is something very satisfying about starting out on a new project with nothing more than an idea for a story, and watching it through completion.

What is your top tip for an aspiring writer? Stick with it, get advice from experienced writers, and find a couple of good editors. I received over a hundred rejections before Solstice Publishing took me under their wing. Since then, I have seen the value of good editors and how they can help make my story great. Learning everything from writing tricks, different styles, and marketing strategies from those who have been through it all before me is an invaluable help. I have found most authors very willing to talk with me about all of this.

 What are you working on at the moment? I am working on a series of short stories now. My idea is to provide science teachers with a set of stories about real science concepts, but told through a sci-fi / fantasy lens. My hope is that the students will find the stories a fun and enticing entry into a wide range of scientific concepts before the boring textbooks kill their interest. I currently have about four of these done, I hope to write about a dozen before compiling them all into an anthology. 

What do you like to read? I will read almost anything, except maybe romance genre stuff. I love science fiction and fantasy, but also historical fiction, biographies, action/adventure, and science content books are all in my library.

 Where can readers find you? I am on Amazon.com:  https://www.amazon.com/Aeon-Rises-Jim-Cronin-ebook/dp/B07H5PCSJ4/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1536631484&sr=8-4&keywords=Aeon+Rises

My Webpage:  http://jimcroninscienceedutainer.weebly.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/JimCroninScienceEdutainer/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/authorjimcronin

Aeon Rises – Chapter One

“Okay Mom,” he yelled, yanking the blankets over his head. “Okay, I’m up already! Gimme a break! I don’t know why I have to get up before the sun. It only takes a minute to get ready.” Struggling through the fog in his head, Justin rubbed his eyes and shook his head trying to clear it.

“Man, that dream was so real.” The dream, so vivid only minutes ago, faded quickly as he awoke fully. Only a vague memory of his father, long dead now, spoke to him as they stood together among the stars. While most of the conversation was gone now, there was something about it being time. Time for what? That was so fricking weird.

As the dream faded completely, Justin gave in to the inevitable, sat up, and tossed the covers to one side.

Today began as every other day began…unfortunately for Justin. Still having homework with only a week left in the school year, his ever growing and never-ending mountain of chores, his ancient cell phone, and, most important of all, the lack of privacy in his own home were chief among his gripes.

“Don’t give me that tone of yours, young man. Just get yourself up here with a smile on your face and get your breakfast before you miss your bus.”

Mumbling through his hands as he scrubbed his face, Justin argued back. “Maybe if you would drive me to school I wouldn’t have to get up so fricking early just to catch the bus.” He made that mistake once before of saying this sort of thing loud enough for his mother to hear and did not want a repeat of that long lecture again, so he was more careful to not let her actually hear his response. The twice-daily torment on the rolling yellow prison was unbearable. Did she really need to remind me about the bus? As he brushed his teeth, a new strategy came to him and his mood brightened. His mind searched through dozens of ways to open the conversation once again before settling on what he considered the most irrefutable, and logical argument. Putting on his best Mom-pleasing smile and one last check in the mirror, he bounded up the stairs. The meadowlarks sang sweetly in the field behind the house as he entered the kitchen.

“So Mom, I heard they’re going to start charging extra to ride the bus next year…”

“Hurry and finish breakfast so you can fix your lunch, young man. The bus will be here before you know it.” Justin poured a bowl of Apple Jacks and chugged his orange juice, then went to examine the fridge. PB and J on whole grain bread, an apple and an organic juice box. “Don’t forget to take one of those packs of carrots too,” his mom called out as he stuffed everything into a reusable bag.

“And another thing. I’m not going to be your personal chauffer, mister. We are perfectly able to afford any sort of bus fee. It won’t kill you to take the bus. You could even do some homework or extra studying on the ride if you put your mind to it. Your grades aren’t so perfect you couldn’t put more effort into them, you know…” Her soapbox speech lasted for a good three minutes, rambling from one pointless reason to the next. Justin zoned her out—a skill perfected by most teenagers. He only caught the edges of her diatribe and forgot the details.

He sat back at the table and added some milk to his cereal, but did not lift the spoon to eat any of it. Two fingers of his left hand scratched nervously at the table. “I don’t like the bus. They bully me on the bus and nobody does anything about it.”

She moved to empty the dishwasher, but cocked her head, carefully measuring her son’s mood. “Have you reported it to the dean at school?”

Realizing he had made the comment too loudly, Justin shrugged his shoulders, sighed, and decided his best course of action was to finish his complaint before the “I am your mother and you can tell me anything,” speech started up. He gobbled up a mouthful of cereal while he organized his thoughts. “I tried once, but that only made it worse. Nobody would be a witness so all they got was a warning. Everyone except Kevin looks at me like I’m some sort of freak. I try to fit in, but I don’t know anything about the benefits of Xbox versus PlayStation. I can’t text them, or go on Snapchat to talk with them. They all laugh at me in the lunchroom. I don’t fit in with them, so I’m a target. You don’t understand. The school can’t do anything about it so I just try to ignore it. Besides, they’re right. I’m weird.”

Justin’s mom stood up with a handful of plates and turned to face him. Her eyes narrowed as she tilted her head. “What do you mean weird? What makes you say such a thing?”

Justin swallowed another spoonful of his breakfast, sat back, and leaned on one elbow as he faced his mom. “You know… just weird. I don’t like the same things other kids my age like. Those video games they play all the time give me headaches. The glasses you got me help some, but they’re trash. Can’t I get contacts like everyone else? I don’t get what they see in all those dumb You Tube videos. I mean, like really, what’s so hilarious about cats playing the piano after the first eighty-three times you’ve seen it? And I enjoy reading real books, not Audible or Overdrive everyone has. I mean, like real paper books. Real books never give me migraines. Those books just don’t feel right to me. You see? I’m just weird.”

His mother sighed and placed a gentle hand on Justin’s shoulder. “All that means is you have better things to occupy your brain and your time with than all the nonsense those other kids are filling their brains with. You’re not weird, honey, you’re more mature than they are. You’ll see. In a few years they’ll all catch up with you and things won’t seem so bad.”

Justin rolled his eyes at her well-meant remark, knowing she simply did not understand the problem. “So, in the meantime, can you like give me a ride in to school instead of making me ride the bus?” Her look instantly told him the answer had not changed. “Well then, can I get a real phone instead of this piece of crap? At least they won’t be able to mess with me about having a junk phone.” That last statement escaped his lips before he even realized it. He knew it was a mistake, but just couldn’t help himself again. Oh crap!

“Justin Madrid, we’ve been over this before.” His mother’s voices suddenly became a lot less motherly as she continued her efforts to clean up the kitchen. “You said it yourself: going on the internet gives you headaches, and you know how I feel about kids your age being able to text anyone at any time. You don’t need that sort of distraction. You know I don’t even have one of those idiotic smart phones myself. A phone should just be a phone. Now let’s not have any more of this nonsense. I have work to do. Finish your breakfast. If you want, I’ll go in and have a talk with the principal about the bullying.”

“No!” he shouted, spewing cereal from his mouth. “Don’t talk to anybody about anything, Mom.” He turned to face her. His hands gripped the table so hard his knuckles turned white. “You’ll only make things worse. I can deal with it on my own. School is just about over anyway. Maybe next year I won’t feel like such an alien.”

She turned to face him, her eyes wide as if in shock. The muscles in her forearms knotted as her grip on the dish towel tightened. The morning sun coming through the window caught Justin at the perfect angle. For a mere second, his eyes reflected golden the soft light, the way a dog or cat’s eyes reflect a car’s headlights at night.

His mother’s face paled and she dropped the plate she was drying. It shattered loudly all over the floor. She grabbed the counter top to steady herself before kneeling down to recover the shards.

“Mom! Are you okay?” He jumped up to help her pick up the pieces off the floor.

“I’m fine. It just slipped. Must have still been wet, I guess. What was it you said?”

“Nothing.”

“No, I’m serious.” Her voice trembled slightly despite her effort to control the fear. “What did you say about being an alien?”

Justin sighed, rolled his eyes again, and reached for another piece of broken plate, forcing up a few tears for added effect. “I just said that sometimes I feel like I’m so different from everyone else my age I must be from another planet or something. Don’t go all crazy over it, okay? You have enough to worry about taking care of us on your own and all. It’s just… like a kid thing, Okay? Let’s not turn it into a big deal. Don’t worry about me, I’ll figure it out.”

His mom sat up onto her knees and took Justin’s hands in hers, capturing his attention with her gentleness. “Justin, I know things have been tough for you lately. I’ve tried to be both parents to you, but you’re getting older now and I’m not sure how to handle some of the things you’re going through. I’m sorry your dad can’t be here for you.”

He felt her hands shaking as he saw the worry on her face. “I’m fine, Mom. You’re the best mom ever and I love you. The only way I even know anything at all about him is because of all the stories you tell me. Are you sure you’re okay?”

She tousled his hair and placed one hand on his cheek. “Just go get yourself changed before you miss the bus. I’ll finish up here.”

 

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Writing together – a novel experience (2)

Ann and RobAs promised in my last blog, authors Ann Evans and Robert D. Tysall answer questions today about their recent collaboration on writing the supernatural / thriller The Bitter End.

 Why did you decide to collaborate?

Rob: I had no choice. Ann said ‘you’re doing it’ so I did! It’s my fault for having the idea in the first place.

Ann: Rob always comes up with great story ideas, but when he told me about this idea, I said I couldn’t write it. It was too deep and too dark. But he wouldn’t let the idea drop, so I made a start on the story and showed him. It wasn’t how he envisaged the story to go, so I said, right, we’re going to have to work on this one as a team.

How did you decide the genre and plot line?

Rob: With the plot line, it was both of us pushing one way, then the other. There was a lot of discussion about what might happen in the story. But often things would take us both by surprise.

With the genre, the way I first described it to Ann made the decision for us – it was always going to be a supernatural thriller. Although some reviewers have suggested that it’s bordering on horror and would make a great horror film.

Ann: We started with a basic story line, which revolved very much around the character Lamia. Then we had to create the more ‘normal’ world that she’d decided to inhabit. I think the personalities and lifestyle of the characters then dictated the plot and where it was going.

Who does what?

Rob:  As Ann is a magnificent typist she puts it down. I lounge on the settee, with a G&T, waffling away until I drop off! She never stops adding life to the bones.

Ann: Most definitely I do all the typing. I’m a far better speller and a quicker typist. He does sit there dictating. At times, it feels a bit like Barbara Cartland dictating to her secretary – minus the feather boa! Actually though, prior to writing any new scene, we’ll have discussed it at length, so we know where we’re going with it.

How do you ensure it all joins up?

Rob: The joining up can be a problem if we’ve discussed scenes out of context. But by going over and over each section, we make it work smoothly.

Ann: That’s the reason just one of us does the typing.  If we were both typing bits into the manuscript it would be a disaster.  We work together moving the story forward. When I’m alone, I’ll go over what we’ve done, dotting the I’s and crossing the t’s and so on.  That’s except for Lamia’s demonic speeches, Rob often writes those when he’s alone, then emails them through to me.  I imagine he closes the curtains, drinks blood and plays Black Sabbath music to get in the mood!

How do you critique each other’s work?

Rob:  We critique by again continually going over areas – and getting help on any medical scenes by people with very big brains (the wife!).

Ann: I have to admit, the very first time Rob said that something I’d written needed changing, I almost cried! However, a took a deep breath, and listened to what he had in mind. And that’s how it’s gone throughout the whole book. Anything that jars or doesn’t sound exactly right, we work on, rephrasing, finding a different way of saying it, until we’re both happy.

Any arguments and if so, how do you resolve them?

Rob: No arguments. If Ann feels something is really needed or important, it generally goes in. The same for myself. We both respect each other in that way and we seem to be on the same wavelength with our books.

Ann:  I agree, we don’t argue. What would be the point? If someone wins the argument, that piece of text might stay, but the other person would begrudge it being there.  It has to be compromise all the way. However, there’s been a few times when his ideas have shocked me, and I’ve actually screamed, “No!! You can’t kill ….” “Oh yes you can,” says Rob. And when I’ve got over the shock and horror at his plans for a certain character or two, I realise that if it shocked/surprised me, it will shock/surprise the reader too.

When do you decide it’s finally finished?

Rob: When we reach a definitive section that ties it all up.

Ann: We knew where we wanted to end the story – and how we wanted it to end. So reaching that point, we got to write…after four years….The End.

How / who published it?

Rob: Bloodhound Books published it, I’m happy to say!

Ann: Bloodhound Books published my first thriller last year, Kill or Die. Later, I met the publisher at the Theakston Crime Writing festival, and she asked me what I was working on next. I told her about our collaboration and the story idea, and she asked to see it when it was finished. Happily, she liked it!

Any plans for another collaboration?

Ann Evans and Rob TysallRob:  Yes, we have plans for further collaborations. The Bitter End was four years in the making, so when another completed book appears is hard to say. The sooner the better.

Ann: We’re currently writing a sequel to The Bitter End, which will also be a stand-alone book. And we’re determined this won’t take four years.

Thank you, Ann and Rob. You make it sound (almost) easy. I’m (almost) tempted to have a go myself – except you can’t collaborate on your own, so  I’ll have to find a writing buddy.  Any one out there?

About Robert D. Tysall. Rob was born in Rugby and has always been very much part of the music scene, and still is. He’s a singer, songwriter and percussionist. Plus, he’s a professional photographer (www.tysallsphotography.org.uk). It was through photography that he and Ann first got together to work on magazine articles – Ann writes, Rob takes the photos.  Together they are Words & Images UK ( https://www.facebook.com/wordsandimagesuk/)  He added: “Ideas, ideas, ideas – that’s what I do, plus poems, lyrics – and now books!”

About Ann Evans. Ann has been writing since her children were toddlers – and they’re now all grown up with children of their own. She writes for a variety of genres: children’s, YA, reluctant readers, romance and crime; plus non-fiction magazine articles. She’s also a former feature writer for The Coventry Telegraph.

THE BITTER END – BLURB

Paul finally has his life back on track. After losing his wife, Helena in a horrific car crash, he has found love with Sally and moves into her country cottage.

As a former high-ranking Naval Officer, Paul now works as Head of Security at MI5.

Paul has no memories from before he was ten years old. An accident left him in a coma for 9 months.  But was it really an accident?

Soon Paul starts to have flashes of childhood memories, all involving his childhood friend, Owen.

Sally introduces him to her friend, Juliet, the owner of a craft shop. Paul is shocked when he meets Juliet’s partner, his old friend Owen.

Flashes of memories continue to haunt Paul, particularly the memory of his first wife Helena burning in the car crash.

As dark things start to happen, and local people begin dying in horrific accidents, Paul must face his past and will end up fighting for his life.

EXTRACT FROM ‘THE BITTER END’

He sipped the brandy, it warmed his throat and made him drowsy. He drifted, eyes half closed, listening to the crackling of burning logs. Tomorrow he would get a bucket of soapy water and wash down the windows in the barn, inside and out. Maybe get a broom and give the place a good old spring clean. His mind wandered to that penknife, recalling now that he’d got it for his ninth birthday. It had been a gift from Owen.

The charred logs shifted in the grate and Paul half opened his eyes. He stared into the fire. Vivid red and blue tongues of flame licked upwards, the heart of the fire glowed now like some magical palace. He could see gateways and portcullises. He could see images in the flames.

He awoke suddenly and tried not to look. He wanted to tear his gaze away, but it was too late. His brain conjured up a face amongst the burning embers. A shrieking face, wide-eyed with terror. A face lying sideways at a painfully twisted angle as Helena burned to death. And the screaming was back.

Links to The Bitter End and to the authors’ websites. Ann Evans and Robert D Tysall - The Bitter End_cover smaller

Buy from Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bitter-End-dark-mystery-twists-ebook/dp/B07F2GVQ6J

Checkout our website for The Bitter End: http://www.thebitterend.org.uk

Also: http://www.annevansbooks.co.uk

Also: http://www.tysallsphotography.org.uk

 

 

Links to my books

http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00RVO1BHO

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00RVO1BHO

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Writing together – a novel experience (1)

I don’t think I’d be very good as a co-author. I struggle to compile a shopping list with my husband without getting irritated, and as for joint authorship of friendly little missives on the Christmas and birthday cards we send out – don’t go there!

So I’m always very impressed when I hear about two or more people collaborating on a novel – especially when it all works out and their work gets published. Even more so if they are – and remain – married.

There are plenty of examples of successful collaborations. To start with a couple of married couples: there’s the British couple Nicci Gerrard and Sean French who write psychological thrillers together under the pseudonym Nicci French. There are also the children’s books authors Janet and Allan Ahlberg – although maybe they were able to maintain marital harmony by dividing their labours, with Janet doing the illustrating and Allan the writing.

Although the books were published under one name, the famous jockey Dick Francis always acknowledged Mary, his wife, in each book. She is widely credited with licking his prose into shape after he came up with the plot ideas. When she died he collaborated with his son, Felix.

Sometimes writers who are famous in their own right get together on a joint work with considerable success, as did Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman (Good Omens). Despite his diagnosis of dementia, Pratchett continued writing until he died, including writing the Long Earth Series with Stephen Baxter.

The most recent, and well publicised, collaboration is that between former president Bill Clinton and James Patterson who worked together on The President is Missing.

Ann Evans and Rob Tysall

Robert D. Tysall and Ann Evans

I haven’t had the chance to interview Bill and James, to find out how their collaborative efforts were for them. But on my blog on the 8th August the children’s, romance, and thriller author Ann Evans and her co-writer Robert D. Tysall (better known as a musician and photographer) will be answering questions about their new novel-writing partnership.

  • Was their recent collaboration on a novel successful?
  • Are they still speaking to each other?
  • Let alone still working together?

Find out by reading my next blog…

 

Links to my books

http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00RVO1BHO

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00RVO1BHO

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A Right Royal Manifesto for Reading.

alan-bennettIn his book, The Uncommon Reader,  Alan Bennett the playwright, author, and humourist (to list just a few nouns attributed to him – many would also add ‘National Treasure’) imagines the Queen suddenly developing such an interest in reading it threatens to undermine her public duties and neglect her hitherto impeccable sartorial elegance.

The novel is short and very funny, capturing exactly the Queen as we think we know her (apart from the reading) and her mind bogglingly stuffy courtiers. These try, using a mix of management speak, which she hates, and snootiness – which she also detests, to bring her back to her pre-reading senses. Without success, as it happens – by the end she has decided to try her hand at writing.

It all starts when the Queen, chasing after her disobedient corgis, finds herself in a mobile library and feels obliged to borrow a book. She reads it, without much enjoyment, from cover to cover, and returns it the next week, telling the driver – librarian, “Once I start a book I finish it. That was the way one was brought up. Books, bread and butter, mashed potato – one finishes what’s on one’s plate.” She borrows another out of politeness, and soon becomes an addict; when her annoying private secretary comments on her ‘passing the time’ reading she quickly rebukes him.

“Books are not about passing the time. They’re about other lives. Other worlds.”

“I read, I think,” she says later, “because one has a duty to find out what people are like.”

For her, the appeal of books lies in their indifference. She starts to keep a log of her thoughts about reading, noting at various times that: books did not care who was reading them … All readers were equal … Literature is a commonwealth, letters a republic … Reading was anonymous, shared, and common. Hidden in the covers of a book she could roam unrecognised.

She often met authors as part of her public duties but was invariably disappointed, deciding that she preferred to get to know them from their writing. Especially, she notes, as many behaved as if they had done one a favour writing a book, rather than one had done them a favour reading it.

At first she felt a duty to approach each book without prejudice – for her there was no such thing as an improving book. She did find some authors, like Henry James, difficult to read initially, though as she became more adept, her appreciation of their work increased. After all, she observed, novels are not necessarily written as the crow flies. Reading, she later decided, was like a muscle that one could develop. Once difficult books could later be read with ease, and complex ideas understood – one didn’t put one’s life into books; one found it there.

One day, sitting next to a professor of creative writing, she nonplussed him with her enthusiasm for reading. “Books are wonderful, aren’t they?” she asked him, adding, “At the risk of sounding like a piece of steak, they tenderise one.”

In the real world, of course, we have no idea what the Queen reads for pleasure, and what she thinks of books and authors. But we get a pretty good idea of what Alan Bennet thinks from the words he puts into her mouth. As well as being funny, the novel is, as Edward Marriot from the Observer said, “A deadly serious manifesto for the potential of reading to change lives.”crown

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