featuring guest mystery authors; crafting tips and projects; recipes from food editor and sleuthing sidekick Cloris McWerther; and decorating, travel, fashion, health, beauty, and finance tips from the rest of the American Woman editors.
Showing posts with label writing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label writing. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

COOKING WITH CLORIS--BAKE, LOVE, WRITE: 105 AUTHORS SHARE DESSERT RECIPES AND ADVICE ON LOVE AND WRITING

Who Doesn’t Like Desserts?

Where do you get your best ideas? Author Lois Winston gets hers in the shower. She’s even been known to jot notes on the steamy glass shower door so she doesn’t forget them! Awhile back she was washing her hair one morning when inspiration struck. Apparently, 104 other authors thought it was a pretty cool idea because they all jumped on board when Lois offered them the chance to take part. The result is:

Bake, Love, Write: 105 Authors Share Dessert Recipes and Advice on Love and Writing, edited by Lois Winston

What do most authors have in common, no matter what genre they write? They love desserts. Sweets sustain them through pending deadlines and take the sting out of crushing rejection letters and nasty reviews. They also often celebrate their successes—selling a book, winning a writing award, making a bestseller list, or receiving a fabulous review—with decadent indulgences. And when authors chat with each other, they often talk about their writing and their lives. Recipes. Writing. Relationships. In this cookbook 105 authors not only share their favorite recipes for fabulous cakes, pies, cookies, candy, and more, they also share the best advice they’ve ever received on writing and relationships.

Author Kaye Spencer created a fabulous video for the cookbook. In addition, many of the Bake, Love, Write authors will be taking part in a scavenger hunt next month. There will be prizes galore for those who participate. Check back here next week for the details.

Authors include: Brenda Novak, Lois Winston, Debra Holland, Dale Mayer, Shelley Noble, Caridad Pineiro, Diana Orgain, Lisa Verge Higgins, Lynn Cahoon, Jasmine Haynes, Jan Carol, Meg Bellamy, Bobbi Chukran, Melissa Keir, Amy Gamet, Kristy Tate, Terry Shames, Barbara Phinney, Kitsy Clare, Raine English, Cathryn Cade, Haley Whitehall, Shilpa Mudiganti, Melinda Curtis, Jessa Slade, Jill Blake, Daryl Devore, Molly MacRae, Elizabeth Rose, Helena Fairfax, Lourdes Venard, Jessica Aspen, Maegan Beaumont, Kay Kendall, Elizabeth John, Victoria Adams, Cyndi Pauwels, Alice Loweecey, June Shaw, Donnell Ann Bell, T. Michelle Nelson, Nina Milton, Pam DeVoe, Skye Taylor, Conda V. Douglas, Pepper Phillips, Judy Alter, Cadence Denton, Lesley Diehl, Erin Farwell, Regan Walker, Kaye Spencer, Barbara Monajem, Kathleen Kaska, Catherine Kean, Rose Anderson, Suzie Tullett, Deborah Hughes, Cynthia Luhrs, Judy Baker, Alicia Dean, Leslie Langtry, Janis Susan May, Mitzi Flyte, Ruby Merritt, Renee D. Field, Kathryn Quick, Susan Cory, Judy Penz Sheluk, Kay Manis, Kathryn Jane, Debra Goldstein, E. Ayers, Chantilly White, Sloan McBride, Triss Stein, Ana Morgan, Adele Downs, L.C. Giroux, Pamela Aares, Nancy Warren, Barbara Lohr, J.J. Cook, Lynn Reynolds, Cori Arnold, B.V. Lawson, Lynn Franklin, M.L. Guida, Irene Peterson, Sue Viders, Liese Sherwood-Fabre, Susan Santangelo, Sheila Seabrook, Elaine Charton, Sharleen Scott, Kathy Bennett, Jody Payne, Reggi Allder, Ashlyn Chase, Beverley Bateman, Susan Lohrer, Donis Casey, Barbara Leavy, Stacy Juba, Karen Rose Smith.

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

FASHION WITH TESSA--GUEST AUTHOR COLLEEN COLLINS AND THE FELONIOUS FASHIONISTA

Colleen Collins is a P.I. and award-winning author who has written several dozen novels in the mystery and romance genres, as well as three nonfiction books on private investigations. She and her attorney-husband write the blog Guns, Gams and Gumshoes, selected by Booklist Online as a “Web Crush of the Week” during its 2014 Mystery Month. Learn more about Colleen and her books at her website

Colleen has generously offered a free Kindle copy of A Lawyer’s Primer for Writers: From Crimes to Courtrooms to one of our readers who leaves a comment. No Kindle, no problem. Amazon offers free apps for reading on your computer as well as on a variety of mobile devices.

The Felonious Fashionista
My husband and I ran a private investigations agency for a decade, which has since morphed into his criminal law practice where I’m his part-time P.I. Or as I  call myself, his “live-in P.I.”

Occasionally, we’ve had clients give us thank-you gifts for handling their cases, from Starbucks cards to homemade tamales. But the most surprising gift offer was from a client who committed crimes in the high style she also liked to wear.  For this article, I’ll call her the felonious fashionista.

How We Met the Felonious Fashionista
A case came into our office a few years ago, where a man said his sister had been arrested on drug charges, and could our law firm handle her case? We get similar calls every month or so, usually for someone who’s been busted for recreational amounts of illicit drugs such as cocaine, ecstasy, Oxycontin. When we asked the particulars of his sister’s charges, he said, “She had ten pounds of heroin packed in the air cleaner of the Mercedes she was driving, and fifty pounds of marijuana in the luggage carrier on top of the car.”

Our jaws dropped.

“Walk like you have three men walking behind you.”
- Oscar de la Renta

Because we were hired quickly after the fashionista had fired another lawyer, we didn’t meet her until her second appearance in court. Imagine our surprise when a Sofia Vergara clone sashayed into the courthouse as if she were prowling a catwalk. She wore insanely high heels, a silk blouse and a front-split skirt that flashed glimpses of her tan, toned thighs. Later we learned she had been a fashion model in a European country.

Other lawyers in the hallway looked like a tableau, frozen as they stared in awe at this beautiful woman, their looks turning to surprise and curiosity as she greeted us warmly. As the three of us walked into the courtroom, she glanced at my husband’s green nylon briefcase decorated with several ink smudges, then at my purse, which is more like an oversized messenger bag as I cram everything into it, from books to my computer.

After the hearing, she took us aside and said she wanted to gift us both with designer luggage briefcases as ours were in serious need of an “upgrade.” Did we like Saint Laurent?  Gucci?

“We like REI,” my husband quipped.

That evening, I found him looking up Gucci briefcases on the internet.

Let’s pause a moment and discuss what this drug smuggler gained from her fashionista ways.

“Always dress like you’re going to see your worst enemy.”
- Kimora Lee

She used her beauty and fashion sense to create a smokescreen behind which she conducted high-level smuggling activities. Although we didn’t know how many other smuggling activities she may have previously conducted or was currently involved in, we do know she drove a new Mercedes, always wore designer labels, wore expensive jewelry and spoke of vacations at pricey resorts.

In our legal case, she must have impressed the judge with her fashion sense because he gave her probation, which she viewed as if it were a charm on a Harry Winston bracelet. In other words, she believed her fashionistaism to be invincible. 

“Fashion should be a form of escapism, and not a form of imprisonment.”
- Alexander McQueen

Our felonious fashionista soon became an escape artist. After her flashy second court appearance, she failed to show up for her next several court-ordered hearings. In fact, she was failing to show up anywhere in life, which led us to believe the fashionista was on the run.

“I don’t think she ever intended to buy us Gucci anything,” I told my husband one day.  “She just said it to make us feel good.”

Which is the unspoken promise of fashion, I suppose.

A Surprise Call About the Fashionista
Almost two years later, we were contacted by a lawyer from the Midwest. “This beautiful woman was stopped by the police who ran an ID on her, but she denies being the individual who had been sentenced to a probationary term in one of your state courthouses. I looked up her court records, and saw that you once represented her. What’s going on?”

My husband explained the whole story, including her being a fugitive from justice in our state as well as an accomplished drug smuggler who used her beauty and fashion sense to derail law enforcement and judges.

The lawyer laughed. “So I shouldn’t believe that she wants to buy me a designer leather briefcase?”

I’ll leave that for you to answer, dear reader.

A Lawyer’s Primer for Writers: From Crimes to Courtrooms
by Shaun Kaufman and Colleen Collins (June 2014)
Topics include a history of trials, players in the courtroom, types of lawyers, trial preparation, the steps of criminal and civil trials, articles on crimes and much more.

"This intelligently organized handbook for practicing writers will make you sound like a practicing lawyer. ~Warwick Downing, former DA in Colorado and author of The Widow of Dartmoor, a sequel to Hound of the Baskervilles




Friday, August 8, 2014

BOOK CLUB FRIDAY--GUEST AUTHOR LOU ALLIN

Lou Allin is the author of the Northern Ontario Belle Palmer series and the RCMP Corporal Holly Martin series set in Canada's Caribbean. Learn more about Lou and her books at her website/blog. www.louallin.com

Toddlers and Typewriters, not Tiaras
It’s never too early to put a child on the road to a profession. With only one child, all my parents’ efforts focussed on me. Not until I began sifting through their pictures from 1950 did I notice the trend.

 On this Christmas morning photo, my mother wrote on the back, “This probably turned you off ironing.” My expression says, “What’s with this padded dressing gown? I’m not in a Thirties film.” My dad was a movie booker, and I went to private screenings with him from the age of five. If I had to be Myrna Loy, couldn’t I be Nora Charles and help solve cases? Yet strewn around my feet in this photo are little evidences of career choices. A blackboard. A tea table.

Here’s my first cutaway dollhouse. I invited my large dolls to examine the little people inside. Would interior design interest me? Women weren’t majoring in architecture yet. Fashion? Why did the Daddy doll have an ugly brown suit? There’s my horse Pegasus in the back. Mom loved mythology. 

Cooking is useful, career or not, and my mother filled her house with homemade pies, cakes, and cookies. I had my own apron, rolling pin, and even a meat grinder! Early Hannibal Lecter? The doll folk are avoiding my glance. Mother writes, “This is why you are such a great cook. Encouragement.” Too true. I rarely eat out.

Here the dolly family examines the fruits of my labours. My smile looks forced. Note how I refuse to stick out my pinky. I do have a politically incorrect brown doll, and is that Betty Boop in the back row? My family is growing. Time for a little birth control. Not long after I will cut their hair and draw anchor and US Navy tattoos on their chests, even my mother’s 1912 cloth baby. Why does my only boy doll get to sit alone at the table?

Every kid loves animals! Women vets were beginning to appear. Here’s my budgie Winky. “Look into my eyes, bird. Stop pooping on the curtains.” Windy was actually very mean and bit everyone except my mother. It had a bad habit of walking on the floor. One day my father, well…..the less said, the better. It was fast. Tekoe and Pekoe replaced Winky but were not allowed to fly the coop. Since we lived in an apartment (before litter boxes), dogs or cats were out of the question. I did raise scores of white mice, two favourites were Errol and Bette.

Time for sports. Here I am with my brand new Schwinn. A light that flashes, a horn that beeps. It’s gigantic, but I will grow into it. No training wheels for me. I graduated to a racing bike at eleven. But few women made sports a profession other than Barbara Ann Scott or Babe Didrikson Zaharias.

Let’s get professional. My aunt was a nurse, and in that headdress, so am I. Check that medicine cabinet and the stethoscope. I have an assistant, so perhaps I was ward matron. I had my own chemistry set, too, but I combined ingredients at will and heated them over my Bunsen burner until they turned black and smelled up the house. I liked lighting candles in closets, and my mother let me. Can you believe it? If we hadn’t been Episcopalians, maybe that habit would have suited me as a nun.

Teaching was the last logical path. Mom made it to vice principal in the Cleveland schools. In my misguided career from 1966 to 2005, I had the same happiness and success as this expression. The dolls seem to be listening, and they’d better, thanks to the punishing pointer, but they were a captive audience.  Although later I was happier teaching English at a community college in Northern Ontario, I can never forget a year in a high school in Portsmouth, a shoe- and pottery-factory town bypassed by time since 1900 and the poorest county in Ohio.

The seniors were very civil, and my mythology class was sweet. But the tenth-grade boys I could line up against a wall and……..where’s my Uzi?

“Why you always sayin’ that I act like a fool?” one lad asked.

“Jim, you don’t have to ACT like a fool,” I said.

“Kiss my ass!” He got it loud and clear.

Off to the principal’s office. Many youthful tears later, parents brought in and more crying. No wonder I preferred being called Coach for my volleyball duties than Doc in honour of my useless PhD in Christopher Marlowe. But for $7500 a year? No thanks.

This last picture should have given me the hint. This can’t be my mother’s Misery-style Remington basher, but it’s no toy. Later on, she will bribe me with money at twelve to teach myself to type. Here I look serene, surrounded by the Internet of the day, an encyclopedia set. Should I have followed my heart and leaped full-time into creative writing? The juvenilia in the next essay will demonstrate my early efforts.

Twilight is Not Good for Maidens
A midnight attack on a girl at an island beach galvanizes the quiet Fossil Bay community and calls into question the effectiveness of law enforcement. RCMP Corporal Holly Martin must conduct her own investigation to discover a killer stalking young women in Canada's tourist paradise.

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Friday, May 23, 2014

BOOK CLUB FRIDAY--GUEST AUTHOR KATHLEEN L. ASAY

Kathleen L. Asay is published in short fiction and has written for arts magazines and a newspaper. Flint House is her first published novel. Learn more about Kathleen at her website. 

Can you Define “Beautiful?”

In my first published novel, Flint House, a burnt-out journalist is drawn into the battle to save a broken-down boarding house in Sacramento from closing and the residents from being evicted. Among the tenants is a mysterious older woman known as the Princess whom they all want to believe can save the day.

When I was in my twenties, I worked for a while in an office in Los Angeles, and on my lunch breaks I often walked across the street to a bookstore. Though I worked as a bookkeeper, I was already a writer. I looked at the world as a writer, storing up images, scenes, voices, so when I noticed an older woman, a pretty woman, who did herself up as she might have done when she was younger, I became intrigued. Who was she, and who had she been? I took her image with me when we moved and vowed to give her a story one day. That story became Flint House many years later and in it she became a princess.

Would I have noticed her and taken those second and third looks if she had been plain, perhaps even awkward or comical in old fashioned makeup and yellow hair? Noticed, shaken my head and moved on is what I see myself doing. I do it every day. I cast aside the unremarkable—no story there. But she was striking, pretty, interesting. You could build a story around that, and I did. Then again, would anyone have believed she was a princess if she hadn’t been beautiful?

I’ve come to dislike the word “beautiful” as a description in writing, especially when it’s used as in a beautiful house or a beautiful woman. If that’s all I need to know, so be it, but if you want me to follow where you lead then tell me why; let me see the beauty first.

Here’s how I describe her in the book when Liz, the journalist, first meets her: “She was probably seventy . . .Lines were deep in her face and her hair was beginning to thin, but I could see traces of the woman’s younger self, one who’d had lushly expressive eyebrows, full cheeks and golden tresses. Her hair, pulled straight back from her face into a knot at the neck, was the vague shade of yellow you’d get if you rinsed white with “summer blonde.” The color was clearly artificial, like the sienna in her eyebrows and the bloom in her cheeks, and yet— Time stopped; time marched on. She had green eyes, a heart-shaped face, strong cheekbones. Once upon a time, she’d been a looker, no, more than a looker, a beauty. Even in Maisie’s shabby bedroom, you could see this and more: a level chin, imperious eyes, back held straight against her chair, she was as regal as a princess. Damn.”

Flint House
What happens when a burnt-out journalist meets a house full of lost souls? Liz Cane has seen too many sob stories in her career with The Sacramentan to have much sympathy for the boarders in Flint House who face eviction after the owner of the house dies, literally at Liz's feet. But when she's drawn into the battle to save their home, she discovers the story isn't the one she expected, and family begins in the heart.

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Friday, January 31, 2014

BOOK CLUB FRIDAY--GUEST AUTHOR CHRISTINE FINLAYSON

Christine Finlayson spends her days conjuring up fictional characters—and devising ways to get them into trouble. When she’s not at the computer, she loves to photograph all things weird or wild in nature, explore the trails and beaches of the Pacific Northwest, and compete in triathlons. Learn more at Christine and her books at her website and nature blog

Where did my creativity go . . . and how do I get it back?

On New Year’s Day, my daughter set out her painting supplies: three canvases, a full set of colors, new paintbrushes, and an artist’s palette.

“I’m ready,” she announced, squeezing out the first tube of paint.

“Don’t you want to sketch things out first?” I suggested. “Decide what you’re going to put on each one?” After all, she only had three canvases, and they weren’t cheap. If she made a mistake . . .

“Why?” She gave me a puzzled look. “I’m making art. I’ll just see what happens.” And with that, she dipped her brush into the paint and started tinting the canvas brown. Out came Bilbo Baggins.
I saw no fear in her, no anxiety that the critics might not like her rendition. Instead, she breathed excitement. It was time to CREATE. Oh, the joy!

I envied her.

When I was my daughter’s age, I’d loved creating things, too. I wrote and illustrated picture books, made puppets, sewed doll clothes, experimented with Styrofoam balls and sequins, and spent endless hours crafting dollhouse furniture. (Note the book and old-fashioned typewriter in the photo!)
But somewhere on the road to adulthood, the pure joy of creation—the spontaneity and whimsy—had disappeared.

So on that cold January day, I wondered: Was it too late to add a New Year’s Resolution? I want my creativity back.

Creative Writing
Like most fiction authors, I rely heavily on imagination. Without it, stories wouldn’t come alive. But after my first mystery novel, Tip of a Bone, was published, life became more complicated.

Creative writing time had to be balanced with book promotion. Under the steady stream of numbers—Sales up? Fans? Likes?—anyone’s creativity could falter. And mine had. It became harder and harder to shut off the analytical left brain and let the right brain roam.

I wanted 2014 to be different, a year of thriving creativity. So after that New Year’s Day epiphany, I decided to try four things and see what happens. Maybe you’d like to join me in this experiment!

#1. Find the quiet. 
When our minds fill with clutter—errands, appointments, bills to pay, emails to answer—it’s tough for creativity to break through. Not surprisingly, my writing is most productive when I leave town . . . suddenly, there’s a quiet space inside, ready to be filled with innovative ideas. Recognizing this, I’ve planned several writing retreats this year. I’ll head to the Oregon coast and take time to watch the waves roll in.

When leaving town isn’t an option, I’ll do morning pages, the quickest way to get rid of those nagging thoughts. I’ve vowed to slow life down, too—stop and smell the roses, savor that cup of coffee, and watch squirrels play from my office window.

#2. Make a bucket list.
As the Queen of To-Do lists, I have papers littering every flat surface, each one with tasks to complete. But this year, I’ve added a “Things I Want to Do” list.

By giving wishes and yearnings equal weight—missions to check off—I’m hoping to do more of them. Arrange a Police Ride-Along? Check. Attend Left Coast Crime? Coming up. Sip daiquiris in Hawaii? On the docket.

Have you made a list of things you want to do this year? (For inspiration, check out BucketList.org. You’ll find all kinds of interesting ideas, including: Draw funny faces on eggs, take pole dancing classes, swim under a waterfall, and visit Pompeii.)

#3. Do things that are frightening.
I’m not talking about haunted houses and horror movies—but saying “Yes!” to adventure and stretching outside of our comfort zones. Doing any new, intimidating activity makes us feel more alive. Last year, for the first time, I zip-lined through the jungle and had a book published. Both scary. Both stimulating.
This year? I may canoe through the Canadian wilderness, swim across a river (an organized event), or explore a seedy neighborhood to research a character. Whatever your adventures are, know that shaking things up can spur creativity. Get ready!

# 4. Exercise more regularly.
Working as a writer (or any desk job) means hours of sitting still. The new wisdom suggests that sitting is terrible for our health, but it can also stagnate the mind. Shifting from mental tasks to physical activities forces the brain to move in different ways.

As a triathlete, I’ve learned that training takes time, but the regular swims, bikes, and runs also enhance my creativity. More than once, I’ve had “Aha!” moments in the middle of a workout—That’s where my story needs to head! Now I can fix that scene!  It’s wonderful to be able to solve sticky plot problems—while moving.

2014 will be the Year of Creativity. Let the experiment begin!

I appreciate this chance to visit Killer Crafts and Crafty Killers today, and I’d love to hear from you. What inspires your creativity? How do you keep it flowing? And what do you do to jumpstart creativity when it falters?

Tip of a Bone
Buried bones, a missing eco-activist, and a deadly fire? It’s not what Maya Rivers bargained for when she moved to the Oregon coast to reunite with her brother Harley. Yet when Harley is accused of an unthinkable crime, Maya insists on adding “amateur sleuth” to her career options. She soon discovers an eerie clue…but the closer she gets to the truth, the the closer a murderer follows.

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

TRAVEL WITH SERENA--GUEST AUTHOR SALLY WRIGHT

photo by Phillip Capper of Wellington, NZ
Reviewers have compared Sally Wright's work to that of Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Josephine Tey, Margery Allingham, and Ngaio Marsh. High praise, indeed! Learn more about Sally and her books at her website. 

A Traveler’s Tale

Places haunt me–water and hills and woods, ruins and houses with good bones and character that whisper secrets I can’t hear.

The mind’s eye is a powerful faculty. I can still see a tiny arched wooden bridge over a miniscule shivery stream edged with wild watercress, beside a dark forest, in front of a wood-beamed cottage in Connecticut I haven’t seen since I was four.

Places give me plots, too–sometimes by raising questions, like, “If someone were on this island alone, how could I murder him?” The Ben Reese mystery, Pride And Predator, ended-up being the answer to that question.

Which means traveling influences a lot of how I write. Breeding Ground, the new Jo Grant mystery, was born years ago on a book tour visit to Lexington, Kentucky. I decided then to set part of the Ben Reese Watches Of The Night there, and as I did research, staying in beautiful old farmhouse B&Bs, where the owners told me the houses’ history, and stories about local characters, it made me want to write a new series immersed in that lush green world where Thoroughbreds graze the ridges and hills.

I rode horses for years, so that was part of the appeal. And most of the people who raise them in Breeding Ground (who’re connected to three family businesses–a hands-on broodmare farm, an equine pharmaceutical company, and a ma-and-pa horse van manufacturer) were fun for me to write about.

But the serendipity of travel makes books change course and become more complex and authentic. As I researched the back-story in Breeding Ground–the French Resistance (all over France, all through WWII), and the US OSS that helped them–I became overwhelmed. Fortunately, a history professor gave me a book on the Resistance in the Loire Valley alone. But I didn’t have anyone in France who could help, and I needed to do work there.

It was in a small B&B in an old mill in the Loire Valley where I was given a gift I’ve been given before–the kind that saves books.

Sitting beside black-and-white ducks, green glass river sliding by, the mill owner spoke of the Resistance in the Lorraine with real knowledge and passion. He’d filled the whole mill with WWII books, and though we talked for hours, it was his description of a real event in the village beyond the mill–and the local reaction in 2010 (that I put straight into Breeding Ground) that gave me the perspective I needed.

So. Without the travel, would I have written books? Yes. Except for one made-up location, I set the first Ben Reese in places I’d seen as a child, and used the pictures in my head. But the rest of the novels wouldn’t have as many levels, or take readers to that many interesting places–in their minds’ eye.

Breeding Ground
In Lexington, in 1962, Jo Grant, an architect, who put her work aside to nurse her dying mother (only months before her brother dies,) has to run the family broodmare farm she’d rather leave behind–when another casualty from WWII turns up in need at her door, traumatized by his work with the French Resistance–right when she and a WWII OSS vet are trying to stop the killer of a friend caught in the conflicts of another family horse business in the inbred world of Lexington Thoroughbreds.




Friday, January 10, 2014

BOOK CLUB FRIDAY--GUEST AUTHOR NINA PIERCE

USA Today bestselling author Nina Pierce spends her days at the keyboard writing romance stories, blissfully creating chaos for her characters by throwing in a villain or two, a little murder and a whole lot of mayhem as they struggle toward their happy-ever-afters. Learn more about her and her books at her website. 

Reality Becomes Fiction
A warm thank you to Killer Crafts and Crafty Killers for letting me hang out with them today. I love checking out other corners of the internet and talking books … especially romantic suspense books!

One of the first questions people ask me when they find out I’m a writer is where do I get the inspiration for my stories. The answer is … everywhere. I came at writing sort of sideways. I have a degree in Marine Biology and spent many years teaching science. During that time, everything I saw or interesting places I visited were catalogued as possible information for lesson plans.

Eight years ago, the multiple sclerosis that had been percolating in the back of my life reared its ugly head and forced me to leave teaching. Enter writing. I’m an avid reader from childhood and decided that I should try my hand writing the romantic suspense stories I’ve always loved to read. And of course I could do it from the comfort of a computer chair. It took a couple of years to re-wire my thinking, but now every snippet of conversation, every story my friends share and sometimes the news programs I see … become possible fodder for a new story.

My newest release, In His Eyes, is set on the Maine coast, a place that is intimately familiar to me. Before I was a twinkle in my mother’s eye, my parents bought a small cottage on a private beach community. They rented it out for most of the summer, but every year my family spent two or three weeks there at the end of August, lounging in the warm sand and playing in the surf. The cottage has since been winterized and my parents now rent it out in the winter months. The premise of my story actually came about when a couple rented the cottage a few years back and actually switched off weeks while they decided if they wanted to separate permanently.

Of course, there was no FBI agent on the hunt hoping to bring down a villain murdering prostitutes. And definitely no serial killer wandering the beach looking for a woman to make his “own”. But you’ll find all that and more in In His Eyes. I hope you’ll check it out.

Do you have something interesting that’s happened to you that might make a good story? Curious minds (and nosy writers) want to know. And just to give you all the information, I have no idea what happened to the couple when the lease was finished that winter, but the romantic in me would like to think they got back together and mended their marriage.

In His Eyes
It’s always wonderful to be noticed … or is it?

To those around her, Maggie Callaghan appears to have the perfect life…a handsome husband, three beautiful children, and her own business. But beneath her thin veneer lies a dark past and self-doubts. When evidence of her husband’s infidelity surfaces, Maggie leases a cottage on the Maine coast and prepares for her inevitable divorce. But a serial killer is on the hunt—and he’s marked Maggie as his next victim. Now her beachside retreat is the focus of an undercover FBI investigation targeting the murderer who’s left a trail of bodies across two states. As lies and secrets are revealed, Maggie realizes her life depends on knowing who’s protecting her—and who’s got her in his sights.

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Friday, January 3, 2014

BOOK CLUB FRIDAY--GUEST AUTHOR M.L. GUIDA

M.L. Guida writes paranormal historical romance. Learn more about her and her books at 
her website. Today M.L. stops by to discuss villains. 

I’d like to thank Killer Crafts and Crafty Killers for having me today. Crafty killers are definitely fun characters to write about. The best killers are those that have valid reasons for committing their disastrous deeds. For instance, Hannibal Lector in Silence of the Lambs, had a reason to kill Dr. Frederick Chilton, because of how he treated him in the asylum. He was an interesting character because he helped Clarice Starling find Buffalo Bill. His crafty escape put everyone on edge.

 In my book, A Pirate’s Curse, my villains love to torture the hero and heroine. Jacques D’Aubigne, Quinton Palmer and Zuto all have evil plans for them. In their minds, their 
motivations justify why they torture. It’s not just to torture. They all have goals that appear to be reasonable, not that Hannah and Kane would agree.

In this scene, Jacques has Hannah where he wants her.

He half smirked. “I doubt it. I don’t give up what’s mine without a fight.” He narrowed his eyes. “You’re not fooling me, Hannah. You want me to release you so you can return to O’Brien. I assure you, I’ll never do that. You’re mine. You’ll soon learn at the Sorci√®re de Mer what happens when you betray me.”

“Yes, you will.” She aimed the dagger at him. “Release me.”

He pressed the sword deeper into her throat, pressing her head back. “Drop it.”

Hannah gripped the dagger tight. The sword dug into her neck and pricked her, wetness trickled down her skin. She swallowed, the dagger slowly slipped out of her fingers, clattering onto the floor.

Jacques nodded his head. “Now don’t move.”

Hannah obeyed. Trapped. Again.

She glanced out the window and sagged down against the back seat.

Jacques never lowered his sword. The blasting cannons and the people’s screams grew fainter as the carriage rode away. She kept hoping to see Kane ride up on the dapple-gray horse again, pistol drawn, aiming it at Jacques’ smirking face, but he never came. She was on her own.

When the carriage came to stop, Jacques lowered the sword.

Hannah jumped out of the carriage and dashed down the road. The thunder of horse hooves followed close behind. A hand yanked her arm, pulling her off her feet and across the horse’s back. Pain burst through her gut from landing upon the animal’s withers. She struggled to get free.

Rough hands hauled her down. She turned to see Dubois sitting on a large black stallion. Jacques spun her around and scowled. “Dubois,” Jacques said. “Take her below. We need to be prepared for an attack and I can’t worry about her running off.”

 Dubois slid off the horse and dragged her into the house. She slapped his hand, but he held her tight. And when she slipped on the hardwood floor, Dubois tossed her over his shoulder, knocking the breath out of her and slapped her behind. She winced.

“So, you like to play rough, chere? The master likes to play rough, too. After he gets through with you, you’ll be as docile as a lamb.”

She shuddered at his menacing laugh. He lugged her down a flight of stairs. Torches lit their way, revealing cracked stone walls stained with black splotches. Coldness gripped her. She choked on the stench of decay and rot.

Dubois carried her into a torch-lit room. Whips, iron cudgels and clubs hung on the wall. Two gruesome torture racks filled the middle of the room. Dark stains covered the dusty stone floor beneath each device. But what caught her attention was the large wooden breaking wheel covered with metal spikes.

Jacques’s little play room is terrifying and like Clarice Starling, Hannah must use her resources to escape.

A Pirate’s Curse is the first book in the series, Legends of the Soaring Phoenix. The sequel, A Pirate’s Revenge, will be released in February 2014.

A Pirate’s Curse
Like a dark angel, Captain Kane O'Brien rescues Hannah Knight and her father from drowning after vampire pirates murder their crew and sink their ship. Struggling to control and hide her telekinetic powers, Hannah discovers the honorable and bold captain possesses his own secrets.

Every full moon, Kane turns into a vampire. Finding out Hannah not to be the cabin boy she resembles, but a beautiful, luscious woman, tempts all his appetites. Desperate to be free of his curse, Kane considers handing Hannah over to a demon. But after Hannah uses her power to save his ship from his immortal enemy, Kane can no longer deny his attraction and vows to protect Hannah with his life.

To find true love, they must combine their powers to defeat evil vampires, thwart Hannah's misogynist fiancé and escape a crafty demon.

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