Lois Winston-Guest with A Stitch To Die For

7-27 a_stitch_to_die_forI’m hap­py to intro­duce my guest, Lois Win­ston. Her new book is A Stitch To Die For. (I absolute­ly love the cover—and the excerpt.) She answered a few of my ques­tions.

I know you write in more than one cat­e­go­ry. Do you have a pref­er­ence of one over the oth­ers?

I start­ed out writ­ing roman­tic sus­pense, but I real­ly found my voice when I switched over to writ­ing humor­ous first-per­son novels—initially in chick lit, then in ama­teur sleuth mys­ter­ies. I’m not a fun­ny per­son by nature. I either for­get or mess up the punch line of any joke I’ve ever tried to tell, but I dis­cov­ered I have a tal­ent for writ­ing fun­ny. Of course, humor is very sub­jec­tive, so not every­one “gets” my sense of humor, but that’s true of most things in life, isn’t it? Some peo­ple “get” you; oth­ers don’t.

What inspired you to begin your writ­ing career?

As cliché as it sounds, it was a dream. I usu­al­ly don’t remem­ber my dreams, but one night I expe­ri­enced a very vivid one that stayed with me. Every night for over a week the dream con­tin­ued, unfold­ing like the chap­ters of a book. I final­ly decid­ed I need­ed to write down the sto­ry, most­ly to get it out of my sys­tem. When I had fin­ished, I real­ized I want­ed to keep writ­ing. By the way, that ini­tial sto­ry, after years of revi­sions, became Love, Lies and a Dou­ble Shot of Decep­tion, the sec­ond book I sold.

Char­ac­ters and plots—are any of yours based on real peo­ple or real sit­u­a­tions? Does real­i­ty ever spark a cre­ative leap?

Most of my plots are born from actu­al events I’ve read about in the news­pa­per or watched on the news. I’m a total news junkie. A Stitch to Die For, my lat­est Anas­ta­sia Pol­lack Craft­ing Mys­tery, incor­po­rates sev­er­al news sto­ries that have appeared over the past year—swatting inci­dents that are occur­ring across the coun­try and a cou­ple of court cas­es where chil­dren died from salt poi­son­ing.

In addi­tion, some of my char­ac­ters have been based on peo­ple I’ve known. Lucille, Anastasia’s com­mu­nist moth­er-in-law, is based on my own com­mu­nist moth­er-in-law. The woman put me through years of hell. I’m now get­ting even. Lucille has become the char­ac­ter read­ers love to hate.

Now let’s talk about your new book, A Stitch To Die For. I love the cov­er for your new Anas­ta­sia Pol­lack mys­tery. Will you reveal a bit of a teas­er? Or more?

Thanks! I’m real­ly thrilled with the cov­er, too!

The adven­tures of reluc­tant ama­teur sleuth Anas­ta­sia Pol­lack con­tin­ue in A Stitch to Die For, the 5th book in the Anas­ta­sia Pol­lack Craft­ing Mys­tery series.

Ever since her hus­band died and left her in debt equal to the gross nation­al prod­uct of Uzbek­istan, mag­a­zine crafts edi­tor and reluc­tant ama­teur sleuth Anas­ta­sia Pol­lack has stum­bled across one dead body after another—but always in work-relat­ed set­tings. When a killer tar­gets the elder­ly nasty neigh­bor who lives across the street from her, mur­der strikes too close to home. Cou­ple that with a series of unset­tling events days before Hal­loween, and Anas­ta­sia begins to won­der if some­one is send­ing her a dead­ly mes­sage.

Excerpt:

Two weeks ago my moth­er, Flo­ra Sud­ber­ry Peri­win­kle Ramirez Scoffield Gold­berg O’Keefe, took her sixth trip down the aisle to become Flo­ra Sud­ber­ry Peri­win­kle Ramirez Scoffield Gold­berg O’Keefe Tut­tnauer. The groom’s daugh­ter was a no-show. At the time of the cer­e­mo­ny her body was being fished out of the Delaware and Rar­i­tan Canal in Lam­bertville, New Jer­sey.

Ira Pol­lack, my step­broth­er-in-law and the groom’s son-in-law, had just fin­ished a toast to Mama and Lawrence Tut­tnauer when two men in dark suits entered the back­yard cater­ing tent and head­ed straight toward him. Giv­en all my deal­ings with the police over the last few months, I eas­i­ly made them for detec­tives, a sus­pi­cion con­firmed when I spot­ted them flash­ing their badges. Ira nod­ded and fol­lowed them out of the tent.

I fol­lowed Ira.

He and the two men made their way to the patio at the back of his house. I stopped at the entrance to the tent. The men stood with their backs to me, Ira fac­ing me. From my van­tage point I couldn’t hear their words over the con­ver­sa­tions and music going on behind me, but I saw the col­or drain from Ira’s face. He shook his head vio­lent­ly and yelled, “No!” loud enough for me to hear.

I raced across the lawn as fast as I could in three-inch heels. Once at the patio, I placed my hand on Ira’s arm. In a voice that trem­bled as much as his body, he said, “Cyn­thia. They found her float­ing in the canal.”

I gasped, then led Ira over to one of the patio lounge chairs. He col­lapsed onto the cush­ion and buried his head in his hands as he choked out huge sobs.

I turned to the detec­tives, wait­ing for more of an expla­na­tion, but both ignored Ira’s grief to fix­ate on the par­ty across the lawn. “What’s going on here?” one of them asked.

A wed­ding,” I said.

Whose?”

Ira’s father-in-law mar­ried my moth­er.”

Both detec­tives knit their brows togeth­er and glared at Ira. “Your wife doesn’t show for her father’s wed­ding, and you’re not wor­ried?” asked the old­er and taller of the two men.

Ira tried speak­ing between sobs. His mouth opened and closed sev­er­al times, but no words came out. I answered for him. “Cyn­thia didn’t approve of her father mar­ry­ing my moth­er.”

And you are?” asked the sec­ond detec­tive, whip­ping out a notepad and pen­cil.

Anas­ta­sia Pol­lack. I’m also Ira’s step­sis­ter-in-law.”

Both detec­tives repeat­ed the twin eye­brow knit, but nei­ther said any­thing. Also, up to this point I had no idea how Cyn­thia had died, so I asked, “What hap­pened to Cyn­thia?”

The med­ical exam­in­er will have to deter­mine cause of death,” said the old­er detec­tive. “We’re wait­ing on an autop­sy.”

Do you sus­pect foul play?”

Why would you sug­gest that?” he asked.

I shrugged. “I can’t imag­ine how Cyn­thia would land in the canal on her own. She isn’t…wasn’t the canal-strolling type.” Dirt and extreme­ly expen­sive design­er duds don’t mix.

What type was she?” asked the younger detec­tive.

Cyn­thia the Tro­phy Wife was more the spend-all-day-spending-Ira’s-money type. I thought for a moment, not want­i­ng to say any­thing that might be mis­con­strued. If Cyn­thia hadn’t died of nat­ur­al caus­es, Ira would wind up at the top of the sus­pect list. “I only met her once,” I said, “but I’d describe her as some­one more inter­est­ed in indoor activ­i­ties than com­muning with nature.”

The spouse is always the prime sus­pect, but Ira was no killer. The man didn’t even have the back­bone to dis­ci­pline his brat­ty kids. If Cyn­thia had met with foul play, my mon­ey was on the pool boy she’d run off with weeks ear­li­er. “Ira, you have to tell the detec­tives what hap­pened with Cyn­thia.”

Buy Links  Paper­back     Kin­dle     Nook     iTunes     Kobo     Google Play

(Oth­er books in the series include Assault With a Dead­ly Glue Gun, Death by Killer Mop Doll, Revenge of the Crafty Corpse, Decoupage Can Be Dead­ly, and three mini-mys­ter­ies: Crewel Inten­tions, Mosa­ic May­hem, and Patch­work Per­il.)

7-27 lois-winstonBio: USA Today best­selling and award-win­ning author Lois Win­ston writes mys­tery, romance, roman­tic sus­pense, chick lit, women’s fic­tion, children’s chap­ter books, and non-fic­tion under her own name and her Emma Car­lyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her crit­i­cal­ly acclaimed Anas­ta­sia Pol­lack Craft­ing Mys­tery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addi­tion, Lois is an award-win­ning craft and needle­work design­er who often draws much of her source mate­r­i­al for both her char­ac­ters and plots from her expe­ri­ences in the crafts indus­try. Vis­it Lois/Emma at her web­site and Anas­ta­sia at the Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog. Fol­low every­one on Tsu, on Pin­ter­est, and on Twit­ter @anasleuth. Sign up for her newslet­ter here.

A New Review For YESTERDAY’S BODY

Okay, I got­ta crow!

It’s mighty rare when one’s work is rec­og­nized so beau­ti­ful­ly, and on the same day when I want to remind read­ers that my Goodreads give­away is wind­ing down.

Here’s the full review:

Yesterday's BodyTitle: Yesterday’s Body
Author: Nor­ma Huss
Pub­lish­er: Sun­set Cloud Mys­tery
ISBN: 13: 978–1466449350
Genre: Mys­tery

The next time you see an old­er woman who looks like she lives on the streets, remem­ber to be nice, she might just be more than she seems. She could be ama­teur sleuth, Jo Durbin, and, if you’ve done any­thing bad, she might be look­ing for you.

Tal­ent­ed author Nor­ma Huss has craft­ed a fun read that offers a dif­fer­ent kind of sleuth with a very dif­fer­ent back­ground. Life on the streets is a hard way to live and any read­er will def­i­nite­ly won­der how such a per­son, par­tic­u­lar­ly a woman, could have the ener­gy and ambi­tion to inves­ti­gate mur­ders or oth­er crimes.

Join Jo, and her some­time side­kick Sylvie who is also her sis­ter, in track­ing down a killer after she dis­cov­ers a body in a clos­et with the help of her cat, Clyde, who isn’t all there.

I’m pleased to rec­om­mend Yesterday’s Body as a sto­ry any mys­tery fan will enjoy. The char­ac­ters’ var­ied back­grounds blend into a sto­ry you won’t want to put down until you find out who the killer is and why they kill. You’ll enjoy meet­ing the real­is­tic char­ac­ters as they cross paths with Jo and your­self. You’ll find you’ve joined Jo in her inves­ti­ga­tion with Clyde and Sylvie and their three­some has become a four­some intent on solv­ing the crimes.

Enjoy the adven­ture. I sure did.

Anne K. Edwards

Now for the Goodreads give­away information—ends April 9, 2015. Giv­ing away ten copies. Sign up here.

Next Mon­day, my five-star review (of other’s books) will be back. And this Thurs­day I’ll have some­thing for both read­ers and writ­ers.

A Tropical Thanksgiving

Kait Car­son lives in and writes from Flori­da. Her lat­est book, DEATH BYKait-cover BLUE WATER, was released by Hen­ery Press on Vet­er­ans’ Day 2014.  In it, para­le­gal Hay­den Kent dis­cov­ers a man’s body at 120’ beneath the sea. She thinks she is wit­ness to a trag­ic acci­dent. Instead, she becomes the prime sus­pect when the vic­tim is revealed to be the broth­er of the man who recent­ly jilt­ed her, and she has no ali­bi.

A year ago I spent Thanks­giv­ing in Flori­da, but this year I’m at home in Penn­syl­va­nia. Unlike my guest, that was only a some­time vis­it. But Kait remem­bers past Thanks­giv­ings and has her own way of cel­e­brat­ing in the trop­ics. Let her tell you about it…

Tomor­row is Thanks­giv­ing. Known to my fam­i­ly as Turkey Day, it was a favorite child­hood hol­i­day. Whether it was at home or away – there were two con­stants. A groan­ing table of food (fol­lowed by groan­ing fam­i­ly mem­bers), and cold weather—sometimes snow. SNOW, what has snow got to do with a trop­i­cal thanks­giv­ing? Well, noth­ing. But my child­hood turkey days were usu­al­ly spent in the north. Some­times on my great grandfather’s farm. He was a hardy soul who lived into his 100s. Fam­i­ly his­to­ry varies on whether it was 103 or 106. I doubt he knew. He was born in the ‘old coun­try’ at home on, yes, a farm. No records were kept, or no records that he kept were kept.

Turkey day on the farm in upstate New York was spe­cial. All of the din­ner was home­grown. Since both of my great grand­par­ents were immi­grants, keep­ing Amer­i­can hol­i­days, espe­cial­ly Thanks­giv­ing, was a reli­gion with them. Our loca­tion made snow a fre­quent vis­i­tor on Thanks­giv­ing Day.

Fast for­ward to my late teens. Here comes the trop­i­cal part. I fell in love with Mia­mi as a five year old when we vis­it­ed cousins. I nev­er fell out of love. When the time came for me to go to col­lege, it was UM or bust—Go Canes! Once plant­ed, my roots grew in the warm, sandy soil, and I’ve nev­er left. My adult real­i­ty has Thanks­giv­ings far removed from any­thing resem­bling snow, unless you count white sandy beach­es. Tem­per­a­tures of 80 and above are the norm. But it’s Thanks­giv­ing! It’s autumn. It needs to be COLD. I don’t know who invent­ed air con­di­tion­ing. I could prob­a­bly Google it, but that’s been my solu­tion since I moved here. Crank the A/C down to 60, pull on a sweater, turn on the oven and have at it. Turkey, brus­sels sprouts, yams (a South­ern sta­ple I might add), mashed pota­toes, green beans, sweet pota­to pie (nod to the South) and pump­kin pie. It all pours out of my oven and on to the table. I close all the drapes to block out the green grass and palm trees, light the fire­place, and voila, a cool, Flori­da, Thanks­giv­ing.

Hay­den Kent, the hero­ine of DEATH BY BLUE WATER, would nev­er under­stand. Hay­den is a Conch. Born and bred in the Flori­da Keys. Her idea of Thanks­giv­ing runs to Flori­da lob­ster stuff­ing (very good by the way) and ambrosia (also very good). She’s prob­a­bly going to spend her ear­ly morn­ing SCUBA div­ing to cel­e­brate hav­ing a day off, and then host­ing a din­ner for her friends Mal­lo­ry and Jan­ice, and maybe her boss, Grant. Any way she slices it, the pie will be from the bak­ery, and every­one will have a late night, a great time, and left­overs to go.

Come to think of it, that sounds like the per­fect turkey day. No mat­ter where or how you cel­e­brate, I hope you have a won­der­ful day.

Kait-photoBIO: Kait Car­son lives and works in South Cen­tral Flori­da. She shares her home with her pilot hus­band, a Chero­kee Six air­plane, eight res­cued cats, and three birds. So far, there is no par­tridge in the avo­ca­do tree. Kait is a rabid SCUBA div­er and can be found under­wa­ter most sum­mer week­ends. A self-styled warm water wimp, the div­ing stops on Colum­bus Day and the day trips by air begin. Vis­it her at www.kaitcarson.com, or on Face­book at facebook.com/kaitcarsonauthor.

Kait’s men­tion of her favorite foods, espe­cial­ly that ambrosia, reminds me of our fam­i­ly specialty—a neces­si­ty for any hol­i­day meal, offi­cial­ly known as apple pud­ding, but also known as red stuff. Do you have a favorite for hol­i­day meals?

Wild Fire Release Party and Settings Hunt

Ally-WildFire_Cover-453x680Wild Fire released Novem­ber 7

I’m hap­py to be part of Ally Shields’ Release Par­ty. She has a great event planned. Keep read­ing to learn all about it. Here’s Ally —

Thank you so much for being part of the  release par­ty and give­away for the sixth book in my Guardian Witch series!

(See con­test details at the bot­tom.)

Book Blurb: A vision. A lost tal­is­man. A dan­ger­ous jour­ney through time…

A month after their bond­ing, Ari and Andreas are still adjust­ing to mar­ried life when they learn the hard way that the O-Sev­en, the ter­ri­fy­ing and bru­tal vam­pire elders, still have them in their sights. A three mil­lion dol­lar boun­ty hangs over each of their heads, and there’s no lack of assas­sins eager to col­lect.

When the local seer has a ter­ri­fy­ing vision of the destruc­tion of Riverdale, it’s up to Ari—as usual—to keep every­one safe. Only this time, an ene­my from the past has bound her fire pow­ers, and the city’s string of arsons seems con­nect­ed.

Daron, the vam­pire prince in Toron­to, has infor­ma­tion that two of the vam­pire elders are on their way to Riverdale. Which can’t be good. Only a risky and unprece­dent­ed jour­ney through time can pro­vide the help they need. But that will leave Andreas to face the O-Sev­en alone…

Buy Links

Ama­zon:  http://www.amazon.com/Wild-Fire-Guardian-Witch-Book-ebook/dp/B00NWX6Y7K

Also avail­able at most online book­sellers

Book Trail­er on Youtube: http://youtu.be/nGO1wudi7xQ

Author Bio: Ally Shields was born and raised in the Mid­west, along the Mis­sis­sip­pi Riv­er, and con­sid­ers her­self a “riv­er rat.” The set­ting and folk­lore of that area are often incor­po­rat­ed into her Guardian Witch series. After  a career in law and juve­nile jus­tice, she turned to full-time writ­ing in 2009. She loves writ­ing, read­ing and trav­el­ing. Way too often she can be found on Twit­ter. @ShieldsAlly

Author Con­tacts:

Web­site: http://allyshields.com

Blog: http://allyshields.com/blog.html

Face­book: http://facebook.com/AllyShieldsAuthor

Twit­ter: http://twitter.com/ShieldsAlly

Goodreads:  http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6527209.Ally_Shields

Ama­zon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/allyshields
Oth­er books in the series:

Awak­en­ing the Fire (#1); Fire With­in (#2; Burn­ing Both Ends (#3); Blood and Fire (#4); Fire Storm (#5).

Com­ing Soon: Eter­nal Fires (Guardian Witch #7) (TBA)

Also by Ally Shields: Cross Keys, an Elven­rude nov­el (Octo­ber 2014)

Blog Tour GIVEAWAY: Nov. 7–10:  Read­ers and writ­ers always talk about char­ac­ters in books, but set­tings are almost as impor­tant, and they play a huge role in the Guardian Witch series. Wild Fire is no excep­tion, and this blog tour is reveal­ing sev­er­al set­tings that are the back­drop for major events in this new release. In fact, I think they’re so impor­tant that I’m run­ning a spe­cial con­test.

If you col­lect the names and num­bers of all ten set­tings, you could win your choice of three ebooks in the series (includ­ing this lat­est release) or a $15.00 Ama­zon gift cer­tifi­cate. It’s easy to do. Here are the rules.

Vis­it the blogs on this list — or enough to col­lect all ten set­tings — then email me at allyshieldsbooks@gmail.com by 9:00 a.m. EST, Mon­day, Novem­ber 10, 2014 with your com­plet­ed list. You will auto­mat­i­cal­ly be entered in the ran­dom draw­ing (two win­ners).

NOTE: A set­ting may appear on more than one blog, so be sure you have 10 dif­fer­ent set­tings before turn­ing in your entry.

Here is the list of par­tic­i­pat­ing blogs*:

AJ Locke
Angela Myers
Brin­da Berry
Car­men Ste­fanes­cu
Danielle Devor
Dani-Lyn Alexan­der
DL Richard­son
JL Buck
Joyce Lav­erne
Kath Marsh
Kirstin Pulioff
Lind­sey Loucks
Nor­ma Huss
Sue Roe­buck
Tina Gayle
Erin Moore

(*If you can’t find a post, return to allyshields.com for updat­ed links and blogs.)

Now for the set­ting: #10

Set­ting #10:  Vic­to­ri­an Man­sion — Andreas’s Vic­to­ri­an home in Olde Town, which Ari now shares. The well-pre­served res­i­dence and its spa­cious lawn is sur­round­ed by a six foot wrought iron fence and par­tial­ly lined with well-kept shrub­bery. It is fur­nished pri­mar­i­ly with antiques from the 1700s and 1800s.

Halloween Countdown-YA Ghost Reads

Vala-Ghost_Writer_300dpiIs there any­thing bet­ter than a ghost sto­ry for Hal­loween? Yes—two ghost sto­ries. One is mine, but first, let me tell you about Vala Kaye’s Ghost Writer.

Tech-savvy teen Malden Mont­gomery leaves New York City antic­i­pat­ing noth­ing but bore­dom when her artist-moth­er brings her along on a two-week vaca­tion to a fam­i­ly inn in rur­al Vir­ginia.

What Malden doesn’t expect is the owner’s 17-year-old son, Jack­son, who is total­ly to-die-for cute. But does she dare believe him when he tells her that her room at the inn may be haunt­ed by a young woman named Emi­ly, who died there more than 150 years ago?

Then Emi­ly begins to com­mu­ni­cate with Malden and she and Jack­son real­ize they have to find a way to help Emily’s ghost come back home or risk a spirit’s wrath if they choose to leave her lost in the dark­ness for­ev­er.

Vala Kaye — ABOUT THE AUTHORVala Kaye

Vala Kaye grew up in Texas as an avid read­er of sci­ence fic­tion, romance and his­to­ry. Her favorite writ­ers ran the gamut from Robert Hein­lein to Mar­garet Mitchell, and includ­ed side jour­neys with Louisa May Alcott’s “Lit­tle Women” and The Hardy Boys mys­ter­ies.

After grad­u­at­ing from col­lege with a dou­ble major in Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and His­to­ry, Vala now lives and writes in warm and sun­ny south­ern Cal­i­for­nia. She is addict­ed to movies, live the­ater, word games and sal­sa danc­ing.

In her first pub­lished YA novel­la, Ghost Writer, Vala explores what hap­pens when the human ‘spir­it’ meets com­put­er tech­nol­o­gy. Vala’s newest title is Arti­fi­cial Intel­li­gence, book #1 of “The Super­hero Next Door” series.

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Get in the mood for Hal­loween with this fast, fun YA para­nor­mal novel­la! “Ghost Writer” is now avail­able in print or as an e-book. Check it out at these online retail­ers: Ama­zon | B&N.com | KoboiBooks

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The sec­ond YA ghost read is mine, Cher­ish (A YA Ghost Mys­tery). You can read all about it here: The e-book is free for five days from Octo­ber 28 through Novem­ber 1 at Ama­zon. But, before you do any­thing, com­ment below. Maybe you will win Ghost Writer.

Shadows Over Paradise

Emmons-CoverAnne K. Edwards writes mys­tery (and I love mys­tery). Her book, Shad­ows Over Par­adise is the sto­ry of com­pli­cat­ed char­ac­ters intent on achiev­ing their own ends, some heed­less of the cost to oth­ers. Action and ten­sion blend­ed with a brood­ing house set on a vol­canic island with soar­ing cliffs and few mod­ern ameni­ties, along with tur­bu­lent emo­tions offer a per­fect cat­a­lyst for the storm that is about to break over the Man­tu­an Islands.

I’d like to quote from a four-star review on Ama­zon.

Julia’s been invit­ed to her friend’s wed­ding on an exot­ic island but noth­ing seems to go right in Anne K. Edwards’ Shad­ows over Par­adise. Even the boat­man on the way to this island par­adise says Julia shouldn’t be there. Still, the location’s great, the peo­ple are full of char­ac­ter, and, being a writer, Julia’s sure she’ll build a won­der­ful mys­tery nov­el from the expe­ri­ence. Mean­while she’s liv­ing a mys­tery of her own.”

There’s quite a bit more to this review, but this is the way it ends — “An excit­ing end­ing is filled with fear and adven­ture plus the sav­ing hands of good tim­ing and true love. While I guessed some of what was going on, I cer­tain­ly didn’t guess it all, but I might avoid island par­adis­es after this tale.”

Oh, that does sound like a sure-fire read! Love that kind.

Here’s all the nec­es­sary infor­ma­tion: Avail­able in paper­back and e-book for­mats

Order this book via check or cred­it card, aStore
~ or vis­it ~ Ama­zon; Barnes & Noble; Bamm.com; Indy book­stores.

Anne’s Ama­zon author page

Ghosts Writing Notes

I’m trad­ing blog posts with Don­na G. Dri­ver. I’ve writ­ten a YA with a ghost and her YA with a ghost has just been accept­ed for pub­li­ca­tion. She told me what inspired her plot. So, here’s her fas­ci­nat­ing sto­ry…

Ghosts Writ­ing Notes, by D. G. Dri­ver

If a ghost from the past want­ed to com­mu­ni­cate through a series of hand­writ­ten notes, would a teenag­er today be able to read them? This was the orig­i­nal premise of my soon-to-be-released YA novel­la Pass­ing Notes.

A cou­ple years ago my 17-year-old daugh­ter was in a rela­tion­ship where I swear the only way she and her boyfriend com­mu­ni­cat­ed was through texts – end­less amounts of non­sen­si­cal (and in my opin­ion, not very roman­tic) texts. I’m pret­ty sure they nev­er actu­al­ly talked to each oth­er. At the same time, my younger daugh­ter, who was nine, was learn­ing to write cur­sive. She was in the rare 3rd grade class­room that still taught cur­sive writ­ing, as most ele­men­tary schools have pulled that cur­ricu­lum, edu­ca­tors claim­ing it to be unnec­es­sary. Between the two expe­ri­ences of my chil­dren, I came up with a sto­ry idea: a boy is try­ing to win the love of a girl but is fail­ing because he keeps send­ing awk­ward and stu­pid texts or emails. Sud­den­ly, he begins get­ting a series of hand­writ­ten notes giv­ing him advice about how to write love let­ters and win the affec­tions of this girl. He first has to learn how to decode these mys­te­ri­ous notes, and then he tries to fig­ure out who is send­ing them and why.

I orig­i­nal­ly wrote Pass­ing Notes as a short sto­ry, but ear­li­er this year I felt inspired to take anoth­er look at it and stretch it out to a novel­la. Revi­sion is my mantra, and I am a big pro­po­nent of nev­er throw­ing away a sto­ry idea, because you nev­er know when the muse will vis­it with the per­fect solu­tion to “fix” what might be going wrong. In this case, my muse told me the sto­ry just need­ed more to it. I want­ed to real­ly explore who Mark’s girl Bethany was. Why would actu­al love let­ters appeal to her more than the ordi­nary texts and emails that every­one else gets? I intro­duced the rival boy at school, and added a cou­ple of Bethany’s girl­friends who aren’t par­tic­u­lar­ly on Mark’s side either. Most impor­tant­ly, I want­ed to build the rela­tion­ship between Mark and the ghost. How are the two of them relat­ed, and why does it mat­ter to the ghost so much that Mark win Bethany’s affec­tions?  And then, of course, if he fol­lows the ghost’s advice, will it work?

DonnaD-cryofthesea4 (2)

I was thrilled that Fire and Ice, the pub­lish­ers of my mer­maid nov­el Cry of the Sea, agreed to pub­lish Pass­ing Notes. It will be released on Jan­u­ary 24th, 2015. In the mean­time, do check out my cur­rent nov­el about a girl who dis­cov­ers real mer­maids washed up on the beach dur­ing an oil spill. You can sam­ple the first two chap­ters at the publisher’s web site: www.fireandiceya.com/authors/dgdriver/crysea.html Fol­low me on FB or Twit­ter to keep up to date on the release news for Pass­ing Notes, and read some of my oth­er sto­ries for free on Wattpad.

www.dgdriver.com

www.facebook.com/donnagdriver

Twit­ter: @DGDriverAuthor

www.d-g-driver.tumblr.com

http://www.wattpad.com/user/DGDriver

www.pinterest.com/dgdriver

www.instagram.com/d_g_driver#

 

Buy Links for Cry of the Sea:

http://www.parnassusbooks.net/book/9781612357867

(It is my under­stand that if you buy from this indie book store in Nashville, you can request an auto­graphed copy. They will email me, and I just have to drop by the store to sign a copy before they mail it)

http://www.lulu.com/shop/view-cart.ep

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IM0JF06

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/cry-of-the-sea-d-g-driver/1118708060?ean=9781612357867

http://www.bookdepository.com/Cry-Sea-Driver/9781612357867

http://www.booksamillion.com/p/Cry-Sea/D-G-Driver/9781612357867?id=6119232814287

Under-the-Tree Good

Vin­nie Hansen, the very first guest I’ve had on this blog, is a retired high school Eng­lish teacher who lives in San­ta Cruz, Cal­i­for­nia. From the sto­ry she tells me, it sounds like she and her hus­band, artist Daniel S. Fried­man love to travel—and read.


In my fam­i­ly we have the expres­sion “under-the-tree good.” It refers to a

Vinnie-under treehot South Dako­ta after­noon when my broth­er Frank mixed up some orange Kool-Aid for us, his three younger sib­lings. He put ice cubes in it. We sat in a shady spot in the tree line behind the house and drank the bev­er­age from bright­ly col­ored alu­minum cups. The four of us agreed this was the best Kool-Aid ever. Thus orig­i­nat­ed the stan­dard of under-the-tree good.

How much dif­fer­ence real­ly could there be in one batch of Kool-Aid vs. anoth­er? In truth, a con­flu­ence of elements—heat, shade, kind­ness, ice-cubes—conspired to cre­ate the sen­sa­tion of under-the-tree good.

Exter­nals can also shape our expe­ri­ence with a book. I recent­ly read Cara Black’s Mur­der in the Latin Quar­ter while stay­ing in the Latin Quar­ter. The book became a blue print for a scav­enger hunt. My hus­band and I tracked down 61 rue Buf­fon, the scene of the crime.Vinnie-61 rue Buffon Across the street was the love­ly Jardin des Plantes. With­out the mys­tery, I may not have vis­it­ed, although this gar­den is every bit as beau­ti­ful and wor­thy as Jardin du Lux­em­bourg. But I had to go to the gar­den! Pro­tag­o­nist Aimée Leduc escaped through the grounds on her Ves­pa.Vinnie-Jardin des Plantes2

My hus­band and I walked up into the area where Hem­ing­way lived and Ver­laine wrote his poet­ry. At the Pan­theon where Vic­tor Hugo is interred, I looked about and thought, “This is where the sec­ond mur­der in the book takes place.”Vinnie-Aimée’s Vespa escape

Impor­tant scenes in the mys­tery involve inhab­i­tants of the cat­a­combs that run under Paris. My hus­band and I didn’t descend into these tun­nels. How­ev­er, on Pont de la Con­corde, two men, clear­ly not city work­ers, popped up out of a man­hole and crossed the bridge. I felt as though the book were com­ing alive in front of me! Even though Mur­der in the Latin Quar­ter is set in 1997, it is clear that peo­ple still haunt this under­ground world of Paris.

Even now as I fin­ish the book at home, I fol­low Aimée along the streets of Paris. When she turns onto Rue Cujas, I think, “We were there!”

All this makes read­ing the book an under-the-tree good expe­ri­ence.

My own Car­ol Sabala mys­tery series is set in what author Lau­ra Crum called a “faith­ful­ly ren­dered” San­ta Cruz. San­ta Cruz is a tourist-des­ti­na­tion beach town full of won­der­ful sights. Like Cara Black’s books, mine are set back in time, but many San­ta Cruz land­marks have not changed. I love the idea of a San­ta Cruz tourist pick­ing up one of my mys­ter­ies, new­ly re-released from mis­te­rio press.

While read­ing Mur­der, Hon­ey, maybe he or she will be inspired to eat a burger—meat or veggie—at Carpo’s. If the per­son is in town for our annu­al Open Stu­dios in Octo­ber, what fun to com­bine the trip with Art, Wine & Bul­lets set dur­ing the art event!

I would love to pro­vide an under-the-tree-good expe­ri­ence.


Vin­nie is in the process of updat­ing her Car­ol Sabala mys­tery series for re-release by mis­te­rio press, while also work­ing on the next install­ment in the series.

Art, Wine and Bul­lets by VINNIE HANSENVinnie cover-ArtWineBulletsEbook

A Car­ol Sabala Mur­der Mys­tery
The stran­gled body of a gallery own­er offers Car­ol an oppor­tu­ni­ty to cement her rep­u­ta­tion as a pri­vate eye. Instead, the inves­ti­ga­tion turns into a night­mare dur­ing which Car­ol unrav­els much more than a mur­der case.

Avail­able through Ama­zon, Barnes & Noble and her pub­lish­er mis­te­rio press.
Vinnie’s web site