Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Interview with Julie Moffet

How many books have you published?
The release of No Regrets in January 8, 2018 will mark my 20th published book! Wohoooo!!!

How did you become interested in writing? 
I’ve wanted to write stories as long as I can remember. I wrote my first book in the second grade when I penned a love story between Prince Valen and Princess Tina who met, fell in love and got married on Valentine’s Day. I still have it. It was a big hit with all the girls in my class. The boys held their noses. After that I won a 3rd grade poem contest about a haunted house. In the fourth grade, I wrote in my school memory book that I wanted to be an author when I grew up
(see picture at left). I wrote for my college newspaper, and later moved into international journalism. Eventually I got brave enough to pen a novel for publication purposes. My first book was published in 1993 and was a Scottish historical romance called Fleeting Splendor.

What is a day in the life of an author like? Do you write a certain number of words, do you write in the morning or evening, etc.?  
Well, I have a full-time job, so I write in the evening hours, on the weekend, or whenever I can fit it in. Someday, I hope that writing books will be my full-time job!

Do you plot the entire book first, then write or plot as you go? 
I write a series, so I needed to plot not only each book, but the series as well. Before I started writing my Lexi Carmichael series, I had to create a series arc and character arcs for all the main characters. Then I loosely plotted the books within the arc. It’s a bit of different process when you are writing a stand-alone novel. But if your question is whether I’m a “plotter” or a “pantser” (better known as writing by the seat of your pants) – I’m a definite plotter. 

Do you use real people and places as models for your books?
No. But there is a lot of me in the different characters and I often use characteristics of family members, friends, and even people I dislike, to create my characters.

Who is your favorite author? 
Too many to name! I love so many authors and genres. But if I must choose, my all-time favorite author is my sister, Sandy Parks ( She writes romantic thrillers and sci-fi adventure. She is a wonderful author, but an even better sister!

How do you promote your books? 
I rely a lot of word of mouth, but I do Book Bub ads, blog tours, Facebook ads, flash giveaways, Goodreads and Amazon giveaways, and I coordinate with my publisher who has an excellent marketing department.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


When a body is discovered on a path near Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry, Detective Patrick is called to investigate. His sister forensic pathologist Claire O'Shaunessy is asked to perform the autopsy. Deception by Sue Myers is the first in O'Shaunessy series featuring the pathologist.

If you are squeamish like me, you are best to skim the first few chapters with the autopsy details and jump ahead to the plot. While performing the autopsy, Claire discovers the victim was strangled, but shows no defensive injuries, as if he wasn't feeling any danger before he was killed. There was a second blood type on the male jogger's sock. She thinks this indicates either another victim or the blood of the murderer.

While searching through missing reports for his murder victim, Patrick sees a face he recognizes. It's Sarah Morgan, an friend of Claire's from their old neighborhood. Her body was found partially buried in a cemetery in the western suburbs.

Autopsy results show she died of hemorrhage resulting from a puncture to the iliac artery during a
procedure to harvest her eggs. When her blood is tested against the spot on the other victim's sock, there is a match. Also linking her to the first victim are sisal fibers found on both of them. What led Sarah to sell her eggs and why did she die from a fairly routine procedure?

When Claire discovers that Sarah's gambling habit led her to sell her eggs, she decides she needs to do something to prevent another woman from dying like this. She goes undercover and arranges an appointment with the doctor she thinks might be involved. This leads to a dramatic, tense climax to Deception.

This is the first book in the Claire O'Shaunessy series.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Death Crashes the Party

It's hard to think of party planning as a hazardous business, but Liv McKay might debate you on that. While planning a 40th wedding anniversary for the colossally annoying Mr. & Mrs Erdman she discovers a body in the freezer and another one in a trash bag in their garage.

Death Crashes the Party by Vickie Fee is off and running from there. The men - Darrell and Duane Farrell - worked for Liv's husband's trucking company and were avid Civil War re-enactors and collectors. Both were shot and one of them was wearing a Confederate soldier uniform.

The sleepy little town of Dixie, Tennessee, doesn't see many murders, but this one coupled with a possible drug smuggling ring has everyone worried. With her friend Di Souther, Liv tries to discover who is behind the murders and see how she can clear the McKay Trucking company from the smuggling charge.

Sheriff Dave tries to warn Liv and Di off, but they disregard his warning and decide to investigate for
themselves. A little breaking and entering, some "borrowed" security tapes, a break-in at Liv's house while she hides in the bathtub and a cache of Confederate memorabilia propel them towards the complex, bewildering solution.

Liv and Di solve the case and things in Dixie go back to normal or at least until the next case! A fun read with two clever characters who work well together. 

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Painted Queen

With tears in my eyes I bought the last Amelia Peabody Emerson adventure. Started by Elizabeth Peters and finished after her death by Joan Hess, The Painted Queen will be the end of the Pedbody/Emerson clan's adventures. I have always been a fan of the dynamic, no-nonsense Amelia and her blustery, but brilliant husband Radcliffe.

The spectacular descriptions place the reader right in the middle of such exotic locations as Tell el-Amarna, Giza, Luxor and the Valley of Kings. And there's always a mystery. Amelia or a member of her family has been kidnapped, threatened, targets of assassins and much more, but through it all they prevail.

And for people who say they do not like to read history, Elizabeth Peters doses them in such a way the readers don't even know they are learning about history.

I met Elizabeth Peters AKA Barbara Mertz while I was volunteering at the American Library Association Chicago event many, many years ago. I was manning the booth and a small unassuming woman was walking down the aisles, but there was a buzz about the room.

"Who is that," I asked.

"That's Barbara Mertz," my friend responded

"Who is she?" I asked

"Elizabeth Peters"

I had all I could do to hold myself back from rushing to hug her and gush over how much I loved her books. When she came to the booth and spent time chatting with us, I was so thrilled.

I have loving caressed The Painted Queen, but I am reluctant to begin reading it because I know it will be finished very quickly and there will be no more. I want to cherish this last book. 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Interview with Triss Stein

How many books have you published?

Brooklyn Wars is the fourth in this series, which began in 2013 with Brooklyn Bones. In the mid-90’s, I published two books mysteries with a publisher
which dropped their mystery line just after I turned in a third. I’ve had two separate writing careers.

How did you become interested in writing?
I was an intense bookworm from an early age; I didn’t see the point in playing if I could read! I think I've wanted to become someone who made books from the time I realized actual people were involved. It is no accident that three of my favorite characters were Jo March, Betsy Ray and Laura Ingalls, little girls who grew up to be writers. It took me a long time to figure out how to do that, though.

What is a day in the life of an author like? Do you write a certain number of words, do you write in the morning or evening, etc?
I am retired from day jobs. A perfect working day now begins early. I go straight to my tiny upstairs office. I write at least two and up to four or five pages before I break for breakfast. For the first draft, they don’t have to be good pages. They just have to be written, to revise and polish later. After breakfast, I write more or edit. After lunch, I do house chores, errands and writing-related chores that are not really writing. How often does this actually happen? The days I don’t start by getting involved with urgent e-mails, I resist malingering on Facebook, have no morning exercise class or medical appointment, there are no grandkids activities? Ah, not as often as I would like! But I do try hard to write, edit, spellcheck and so on - do something!- every day, to keep the wheels turning.

Do you plot the entire book first, then write or plot as you go?
When I was a student and teachers asked for an outline before the final paper was due, I had to write the whole darn paper and then outline it. So that tells that I am a person who finds out what I think by writing it. I start a book with a setting (very important in my series) and some characters (a few ongoing and a few new ones I need for the story) and a general idea of what will happen. Very general. That’s it. With every new book I vowed the next one would be outlined. This winging it was too inefficient, had too many wasted hours staring at the screen with no idea of what comes next, too much rewriting. In life I am a rather organized  person. What I have learned is that the wasted hours aren’t really wasted, and the ideas grow out of the (not so pointless) musing. The truth is, I lose interest as soon as I start outlining. I want to be surprised by the story too.

Do you use real people and places as models for your books?
I would never use real people, though there is often a bit of someone in some characters, and Erica, my heroine, was inspired partly by a few people I have known. However, I always use real places. Each book is set in a different neighborhood of Brooklyn, and I have had a lot of fun researching their histories and including some real locations. I always add a note at the end to tell what was real, what was guessed at, and what was completely invented. 

Who is your favorite author?
I could never answer that for mysteries. I know too many writers and I read too much. How can I pick a favorite? I’ve already mentioned three favorite childhood characters, though, and the authors are (of course!) Louisa May Alcott, Maud Hart Lovelace and Laure Ingalls Wilder. And I will add that one of my most loved adult writers has been Penelope Lively. Reading some of her books I have thought, not “I wish I could write a book that good,” but “I wish I could write exactly that book.” That’s how deeply she speaks to me.

How do you promote your books?
I try to create a voice for myself on Facebook. I was a member of two group blogs, now ended and wrote three times a month.  I blog as a guest on some terrific blogs when I have a new book out, and I have found that offering a giveaway is a great way to get readers/responses (in other words, attention) And I have spiffy new website where I will start regular blogging again. There is also a signup for an (eventual) newsletter. I go to some of the conventions - Malice Domestic and Bouchercon, - when I can and I have wonderful time meeting people, appearing on panels and - I hope!- making friends for my books. Does any of this have results? Hard to be sure. 

Triss Stein's newest book is Brooklyn Wars. 

For reviews of Triss Stein's Brooklyn Bones and Brooklyn Graves, click here.