Interview with Author Cindy Davis

Today we are fortunate to have author Cindy Davis join us.

Welcome, Cindy. It is so good to have you here today.DSCF5792.JPG

In visiting your author page on Amazon, we see you are a very prolific writer, with work ranging from Westerns, through Women’s Fiction and Mysteries. Just how many books have you published to date?

The westerns were a series for kids. They are out of print—still showing available on Amazon. I mostly write mysteries. I have, I think 16, two series and several stand alone titles. I cut my teeth on the Bobbsey Twins, moved up to Nancy Drew and graduated to Agatha Christie. My favorite TV character is Jessica Fletcher.

How many of your books are fiction? Thirteen: one women’s fiction and the rest mysteries. What is the subject of your non-fiction titles? Two were walking tours of a very historical area in southern NH; one is a self-help guide on editing: You Have the Power, Self-edit Your Way into Print.

The earliest book listed on Amazon seems to be Final Masquerade published in 2003.  Can you tell us a little about it? It was my first. I finished the first draft in three months. I typed THE END and burst into tears. At that very moment, my husband came home from work. Naturally his mind went in a whole other direction—he thought I’d crashed the car. The story was inspired by a homeless woman we saw riding a bicycle with a kerosene can on the back. With it, she heated a car she lived in—on land that she owned. I wondered what made a person live in this manner, and the story was born (which was entirely fiction).

How long did it take you to write, from when you finished that quick first draft to the thrill of publication? As I said, the first draft took only three months. Two more months of edits, then a few months looking for a publisher. It’s since been through three more printings and has been re-titled Take the Money and Run.

What is your timeline for new releases, currently? A long time. I had three life changing events over the past two years and it pretty much brought my writing to a halt. In August, I vowed to get back on track. First, complete the sixth in my Angie Deacon mystery series—which I did this past weekend. It’s currently out with my beta readers. Second, to write book four in the Smith & Westen series. Third, to write the romantic suspense stimulated by my trip to Italy. It’s going to use many of the same characters from A Lethal Dose of Love.

I noticed you have gone through a number of small publishers and are now with Enigma Books. Can you share a bit about your experiences working with the various boutique publishers? They’re all pretty much the same. Some faster. Some with a bit more promotion. I think through the years, I graduated to publishers with whom I felt the most at home. Originally I took the first one that said yes. Right now, I have a few self-published books. The others are with two publishers: The Wild Rose Press and Champagne Books.

Many of my readers are independent authors. What do you think are the advantages of using a small publisher, rather than going indie? You get professional editing for one thing. And professional cover design. As an editor, I have so many self-published authors come to me AFTER they’ve put a sub-par book online. Books need professional service no matter what method you plan to use. What other services do the publishers provide for you? They do the layout and formatting and submission to the right venues. One of my publishers, The Wild Rose Press, does a phenomenal amount of promotion. That’s not to say I don’t have to do a lot myself, but it’s nice to have a backup with an excellent reputation in the business.

You have lived in New England most of your life, but recently visited Italy, one of my own favorite places. What one impression of Italy has stayVolterra,street2ed with you the strongest since returning home? A week before I left for Italy I bought a home in Florida. If I hadn’t done that, I would now be living in Volterra, Tuscany. I LOVED the ambiance, the views, the people. I am planning a return trip to set a book there.

Since expanding your career into freelance editing, what are the most frequent mistakes you find in the manuscripts you’ve edited? First, as mentioned above, authors who think that because they’ve put there book on Kindle or wherever, that it’s a given that it’ll sell. They see NO sales and/or bad reviews, then come to me for mending. Huge mistake because your name has already been out there. If you want to know the biggest mistake I see in manuscripts, it’s probably that authors don’t understand deep point of view. Too many think it’s putting thoughts into italics when it couldn’t be further from the truth.

I understand you have a new book out this month. Would you like to tell us a little about it? Stone Cold Sober is the sixth in my Angie Deacon mystery series set at Stone-Cold_Sober-CoverPrintNew Hampshire’s Lake Winnipesaukee. My heroine Angie, runs a community theater. Her partner has just left for Broadway and all the responsibility is on her shoulders. She’s so proud when she hires her first leading man. The problem? Wives keep popping up like dandelions in a field. When multiple wives find out about each other…nothing good can happen.

This sounds like a fun read, Cindy.  I’m sure many of us will be checking it out.

Thank you so much for being with us today. You have a world of experience to share. If readers would like to find out more about you, your books and your editing services, where should they go?

Please click on any of the links below:

 www.cdavisnh.com.

www.fiction-doctor.com.

www.writerscollege.com/

indieBRAG Christmas Blog Hop

ALL-ABOARD-with-medallion

Hello, wonderful readers! Bunny Elder Banks here to welcome you to J.B.Hawker’s B.R.A.G. blog party. J.B. is too shy to brag about herself, so, since I was in town, I offered to be your hostess.

I actually don’t mind, since J.B. never would have won her two B.R.A.G. medallions without my help.

If you think it is easy being the heroine of one of J.B.’s books, well…you can just think again. The things she puts me through!

You know, she looks like such a sweet little church lady, but some of the things swirling around in her imagination…my dear, I mean, really! It’s all right for you who only read about these things, but I have to live them.

Dealing with the serial killer in Hollow, her first Medallion winner, was an eye-opener, believe me. She took an innocent story about a small town Halloween decorating contest and almost got me killed.

When she took me off to Italy in Vain Pursuits, her second award-winner, I thought it was going to be my reward for what she did to me in Hollow…no such luck. She got me kidnapped by the Mafia in that one. Well, she did give me a few romantic scenes with my Max, so I guess I will forgive her. Still…you should just read what she gets me up to in Seadrift and in …and Something Blue.

I thought when she concluded that series with such a nice, happy ending, Max and I could retire in peace. But then what does she do? She kills him off! And brings me back to Bannoch in The First Ladies Club to help rescue her latest victim (what does she have against pastors’ wives, anyway?).

Oh, I know, she hints in A Body in the Belfry that maybe Max isn’t quite as dead as we were led to believe (led to believe by you-know-who), but with her fascination with dead bodies, what am I to think?

Now, where was I? Oh yes, I’m here today to welcome you to J.B. Hawker’s BRAG Christmas Blog Hop… and to brag about her, I suppose. Hmmph! I don’t think so.

Oh, well…it is the Season of Peace and Joy, so I guess I can cut her some slack. The poor dear probably doesn’t have much excitement in her own life and needs to live vicariously through mine.

Best wishes to you all for a Blessed Christmas and happy reading.

The next stop on the indieBRAG Christmas Blog Hop is tomorrow, December 8 with Vinnie Hansen  who is probably much kinder to her characters than you-know-who.

Until next time…bye from your pal, Bunny.

Super cool!

3d .png Body coverWith Thanksgiving just passed, please forgive me for indulging in a bit of giving thanks for these five-star reviews of my latest release, A Body in the Belfry:

5starsThis book captured me from the first page. If you love a good mystery with interesting characters and a beautiful setting, you will love this book. Can’t wait to read more in this series!

Let me tell you about a really good book — A Body in the Belfry by J.B. Hawker. A Body in the Belfry is the second book in The First Ladies Club Mystery series, following book one, The First Ladies Club, also really good.

From the first chapter I was thrilled with this book! This is the first book I have read by this author, and I look forward to reading more.

Awesome book ! Loved the story line, this book will keep you reading till the very end. So many Wonderful characters…

 I thoroughly enjoyed this suspenseful novel.

Absolutely fascinating characters, I enjoyed meeting every one of them. This story took me for a ride from the very beginning and that feeling was there until the end. I recommend this book to anyone with a sense of adventure and daring. Can’t wait for the next book!

 This book had a lot of twists and turns that kept me on the edge of my seat, I couldn’t put it down, and I highly recommend it. All the characters are multi-dimensional and I had to keep reading the book through until the end. J5stars.B. Hawker is a wonderful author and you will not be disappointed.

I love this second book in the First Ladies’ Club series. J.B. Hawker is a very good Christian author and has, once again, provided a great read!

I realize these are only the first eight reviews and, eventually I will disappoint someone, but for this launch week I’m riding high.

You can read the complete reviews for these snippets by clicking the book link above.

If you want to check out the book to see if you agree with these generous readers, A Body in the Belfry is on sale at only 99 cents during this launch promo, before returning to its regular price of $4.99. (Featured as a New Release today 12/5/15, on Free Kindle Books & Tips)

The first book in the First Ladies Club series, The First Ladies Club, is also being temporarily discounted to celebrate this new release.

Once again, THANK YOU, wonderful readers!

Be sure to check in next Saturday, December 12,  when I interview author, Cindy Davis.

 

 

The Big Day, Dec. 1

3d .png Body cover
Click on the Book image to buy now

On December 1, 2015, A Body in the Belfry will be available in all formats.  I’m discounting the digital version (Kindle, ePub) to only 99 cents for a limited time during the launch. After that, it will return to the regular price of $4.99.  Those who have pre-ordered will get the $.99 price.

I’m excited to have this book “out there” because I think it shows how I’ve grown as an author.

Please share the promotional discount with your friends who read cozy mysteries and Christian fiction, so they can take advantage of the low price.

If you read and enjoy this, or any of my books, please consider posting a review. Reviews really do make a world of difference to authors.

It’s a poor writer who blames her tools…

This has been an interesting week. I’ve spent a lot of time watching webinars on improving my skills and craft, and keeping up on world news.

My activities intersected when I read this quote from Carly Fiorina (posted on Townhall.com, 11/20/15, from a speech following the Paris terrorist attacks)

This Is a War We Must Wage and Win

…ISIS is becoming increasingly technologically sophisticated. They are utilizing encrypted communications that allow their recruits to disappear. They have established a 24-hour help desk to help fighters evade law enforcement.

How does this quote relate to my time spent learning the tools I need to become a better writer? It shows how important it is to keep current on technologies as they become available to us.  We can be more successful, whether for good or evil, by utilizing new skills and processes.

tools1One of the tools I had been dragging my feet about is the writers’ software, Scrivener. I continued to struggle with all the complicated formatting issues of Word because I was afraid of Scrivener’s learning curve, even though fellow writers raved about it.

When I asked my son, here on a visit from Italy, to help with a problem I was having formatting a Word file, he suggested I use Scrivener. He uses it in his translating work.

I finally bit the bullet and downloaded the free trial. It looked just as complicated as I’d feared and seemed to dry up my creative juices as soon as I opened the program. However, after walking through the help files, followed by watching a webinar, I’m flying through the outline and first draft of my current work in progress, A Corpse in the Chapel.

My latest book, A Body in the Belfry, releasing in all formats 12/1/15, is the last I will produce the old way. I’ve become a confirmed Scrivener fan.

This year, my list of things to be thankful for, as we sit down to Thanksgiving Dinner, will include the Scrivener program and all the wonderful training videos out there.

Wishing you a blessed Thanksgiving.

 

Interview with fellow author, Maureen K. Howard

Welcome Reader, to November’s Second Saturday Author Interview.

My guests today are the mother-daughter team who write as Maureen K. Howard, Maureen Kovach and Brigette Howard.

Thank you for joining us today, Maureen and Brigette. I know my readers are eager to learn more about you and how you create your charming characters.  Just to give our readers who may not have read your books an idea of your style, here’s an excerpt from my review of Sunny Side Up from this past March:

Sunny Side Up lives up to its title, as the main characters are indefatigably cheerful, even when enmeshed in the most devastating situations.

Fans of zany, madcap female amateur detectives will love boating on Lake Erie with BFF’s Francie and June, an unlikely match-up whose friendship holds fast as they leap into one ill-advised adventure after another.

Now, let’s learn more about this dynamic duo:

Maureen and Brigette, when did you publish your first book, Sunny Side Up?

Sunny Side Up was published on November 21, 2014, just in time for the holidays.

How long did it take from the first glimmer of an idea until publication?

Brigette and I toyed around with the idea of writing a book for about three years before we finally decided to quit talking about it and do it. Once we got it going, the actual writing took about six months, and then we had to figure out how to get it published. That was probably more work than the writing because it was all brand new territory. I Skyped with my sister’s friend in England who gave me a road map for the journey. From there, we joined lots of online author support groups and asked lots of questions. All told, I’d say close to four years. Seeing that first novel in print and holding it in my hands was unlike any feeling I’ve had since Christmas Day when I was four years old.

I know exactly how you felt, Maureen.  You and your daughter write as a team. I’m curious about how this duet of words works. Can you explain the process?

It’s unusual, or so they tell me, but to us it’s the most natural thing. I can’t imagine doing this on my own. Brigette is the idea girl. We plot out a rough outline together. She comes up with so many creative scenes and puts her thoughts down in a shared Google Doc. I then stretch, expand, and polish the material. We both go over and over the whole thing, adding and refining all the time. I love writing the scenic descriptions and creating realistic dialogue. We’ve been told we have a unique voice, and I suppose that’s due to two voices melding into one.

As a retired English teacher, what are your thoughts on the current crop of independent authors, as far as grammar, punctuation and the mechanics of the written word are concerned?

I am proud to be in the company of so many independent authors who are meticulous about what they publish, but as in all fields, there are those who are in a rush and will sacrifice quality for quantity. I love to promote other independent authors who exemplify superior skill and craftsmanship. If an author writes a good story, her readers won’t care who published the book.

Do you think your teaching background helps in the editing process?

Without a doubt! I am obsessive when it comes to sentence structure, grammar, and punctuation. (Notice the Oxford comma-LOL). I see errors even when I’m not looking for them. They’re everywhere. They haunt my dreams. After I have edited our manuscripts to death, I do it again, and then send it to a professional editor.

I noticed your publisher is listed as Silver Phoenix Publishing. Is this the same Silver Phoenix Publishing best known for comic books and trading cards? If so, how did you make the connection to have them publish your cozy mystery book?

There is no connection, darn it. I checked out the name when we were forming our partnership and since there wasn’t one in Ohio, we used it. It was the code name for my youngest daughter’s unborn child-but that’s a story for another day. (She since gave birth to my wonderful granddaughter, Evelyn Lilith.)

You bring the Lake Erie neighborhoods to life in your stories. Have you lived in Ohio all your life?

No. I lived in Michigan for my first forty years. I now reside in Ohio, and my family has been enjoying the beautiful shores and islands of Lake Erie for over twenty years.

Do you have an agent?

No. We are doing the Indie thing.

Is Francie’s personality a combination of yours and your daughter’s?

I have pondered this question myself. She definitely has personality traits that we share, such as fierce loyalty, a sense of humor in the face of adversity, and the love of all cheese and fine wine.

Do you have a work in progress or new release you would like to tell us about?

Yes! We are so excited for the release of Deviled. Book 2 in the Lake Erie Mysteries series will be available for purchase any day now.

Where can readers learn more about you and your books?

Please visit (the sites below). We love interacting with our readers!

lakeeriemysteries.com

Facebook.com/maureenhowardauthor

Twitter: @mhowardbooks

mhowardbooks@gmail.com

img_2285At left is a photo of Brigette with her dog, Isabelle, and me with Joe, the golden doodle.

It was a pleasure answering your questions, Jonna. I can’t wait to read all your other author interviews and gaining insight into their lives and writing process.

Hugs,  Maureen

Thank you so much for sharing with us, Maureen. I’m sure we all look forward to more entertaining, egg-titled adventures with Francie and her friends.

A Body in the Belfry Now Available in Print from Amazon

The long wait is over. Print copies of A Body in the Belfry are now available. The digital version is in pre-order from all the major dealers for release December 1.

View on Amazon

Now I’m in the crucial (and dreaded) promotion/marketing phase.

Thanks to my launch team and all my supportive fans for sharing news about my books and posting positive reviews. What would I do without you?

I am being interviewed for 30 minutes on the Rave Reviews Book Club radio show, Rave Waves, this coming Thursday, November 12 beginning at 9:00 a.m. (Pacific Time). Listen in by going to Bring on the Spotlight. You can submit questions during the live broadcast by tweeting with the tag: #RRBCBringOnTheSpotlight.  The program archives are available at http://hosts.blogtalkradio.com/ravereviewsbookclub.

I’m learning to create trailers (video snippets) for my books. The one for A Body in the Belfry is below:

Be sure to watch for next week’s blog when I interview the team writing as Maureen Kovach, authors of Sunny Side Up and other cozies featuring life on Lake Erie.

Progress Report: A Body in the Belfry Launch Update

In response to the generous, encouraging fans who have asked about my upcoming release in the First Ladies Club series, I am happy to report “A Body in the Belfry” is on track for an early release.

Thanks to hard work by my beta readers and editors, I am reviewing the proof copy this weekend and anticipate publication of the print version to happen mid-November, just in time for Christmas gift-giving ;-).

The digital version for Kindle and other ebook-readers will be in pre-order until December.

There is still time to join my launch team and receive a free Advance Review Copy (ARC) in exchange for an honest review.  If you would like to participate and are willing to read and post your review when the print copy releases in November, drop me an email, telling me a little about yourself, to: jbhawker@jbhawker.com and I will send you a PDF copy of the book.

Besides posting reviews on Amazon, members of a launch team are encouraged to promote a book on social media and share with family and friends.

No writer can be a success without the generous support of fans like you.

Thanks so much.

 

Controversy: Good or bad?

HOLLOWMy first book, Hollow, is featured in the Halloween reads on the indieBRAG website this week.  I was thrilled a few years ago when my first foray into indie publishing was awarded this prestigious award.

Since then, I wrote three more books in this series featuring former pastor’s wife, Bunny Elder, and have begun a new series, as well.

When I first published Hollow, I didn’t list it as Christian Fiction because I considered it to be more a book about a woman who happened to be a Christian than inspirational reading.  Some readers complained about the Scripture verses and overt religious content, even going so far as to accuse me of trying slip one over on them by not labeling the book Christian. So, I added the Christian label.  You guessed it; this brought complaints and bad reviews from readers expecting a very different kind of novel.

While most reviewers seemed to get it, a few did not. However, the ratings remained in the 4.5 star range.

Once the series was complete, I set this book as perma-free. That’s when the attacks began in earnest. Even though I tweaked the description to alert readers to the nature of the book, the ratings have fallen to 3.7 stars, as of this morning, although the others in the series remain above 4 stars.

My question for you is, “Can the controversy surrounding this first book be turned into some sort of advantage, or should it be ignored?”

Own your passion! Respect your gifts!

3d FLC cover   I have a dear friend and former co-worker whose experience can be an inspiration to us all.  My friend, I’ll call her Michelle, joined the Department on a short-term contract to help out in technology. She did the work with such competence and flair that she was hired full-time as head of the education technology department. Michelle’s unique vision and passion for education soon led her to become CEO of her own educational consulting company and she is now one of the faces of the Maker movement for rural education.

Interestingly, along Michelle’s journey, she was frequently the object of resentment from coworkers and others. They tried to discourage her from implementing her dreams and seemed angry when those dreams became reality. Dreams, they seemed to say, are not to be taken seriously. 3d .png Body cover

Independent authors face this same attitude.

One member of an author’s Facebook support group posted this today: “What books have you written?” People ask this question when I introduce myself as a writer. This question has always been terrifying for me. If I give them the titles of my books or tell them where my writing can be found, they may read and find out…I’m not very good. This lack of trust in myself once kept me from publishing my work.3D Hollow

Why are so may of us afraid to trust our vision and gifts? Just having a dream is an accomplishment, putting it into action is an act of bravery and should be admired.3D Vain BRAG

While we never want to be accused of taking ourselves too seriously, we should be proud of taking our passions very seriously, indeed.

We may not all become CEO of our own successful company, or 3D seadriftsee our work on the best seller lists, but if we have followed our vision and stepped out to bravely use our gifts and passion to turn that vision into something concrete, we should not be embarrassed, ashamed or afraid of criticism.  3D Something Blue

The images on this page represent the fruits of my passion to write, they are books I’ve written and published for all to see.

Writers, creators and dreamers of all kinds, I urge you: respect your gifts and own your passion.