BLOG TOUR – 16 Millimeters – GUEST POST

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Hello!  Welcome to another Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour. This time I’m featuring a stop on the 16 Millimeters tour. The author, Larissa Reinhart has provided a guest post for today’s stop. Purchase links, Goodreads link, and Rafflecopter Giveaway will be below the guest post! Enjoy!

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Keeping the Southern Drawl While Living in Japan

Both of my humorous mystery series are set in small-town Georgia. The Maizie Albright series was conceived in Georgia, although the first book, 15 MINUTES, was published while I lived in Japan, and the second 16 MILLIMETERS, was mostly written in Japan. My Cherry Tucker series was conceived in Japan, books two through five written in Georgia, and half of six written in Japan.

Confused? Me, too. I don’t know if I should drink green tea or sweet tea most of the time. How do I keep the Southern drawl while living in the land of the Rising Sun?

We eat Southern. Which is easy to do in Japan. Lots of chicken and pork. Corn, okra, and greens (although their greens are not the same, greens are greens). My husband brought his smoker with him so that we could have homemade BBQ. I made macaroni and cheese. I missed pimento cheese, but we brought North Georgia grits with us (and had some sent to us by the wonderful Gretchen Archer). Fried apple pie was hard to come by, but fried anything else is not.

Country music, y’all. And bluegrass. That’s where I find a great turn of phrase. I love the humor, storytelling, and poetic phrasing in country music. But I’d listen to country and bluegrass whether I was writing country or not.

I watch reality shows like Southern Charm (both Charleston and Savannah) and Welcome to Myrtle Manor (which is sadly over) where the lives of Southerners may be ridiculous and seemingly unrealistic, but at least their accents are real. And I love a good reality show. I miss that Myrtle Manor.

Of course, I peruse the magazines like Southern Writers Magazine, Southern Living, and Garden & Gun, and follow Southern blogs like The Bitter Southerner. And I love to read Southern Fiction, particularly by authors like Joshilyn Jackson and Sally Kilpatrick. Plus all my Southern mystery friends like Gretchen Archer and Tonya Kappes.

So in my Japanese home, I can steep like sweet tea in Southern comfort.

Here’s my question for y’all. In what ways would you keep your home fires burning while living overseas? What shows would you watch? What would you recommend to a Southern writer overseas?

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Thank you, Ms. Reinhart, for providing such a great guest post for today! If you’re interested in visiting other stops on the tour for 16 Millimeters, please click on the banner at the end of this post. That will take you to the main tour page with links to other participants!

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BLOG TOUR – Murder on the Toy Train Express – REVIEW, INTERVIEW

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4 out of 5 stars.

Welcome! Today, I’m hosting a stop on another Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour. Today’s tour is for Murder on the Toy Town Express, the 2nd in the Vintage Toyshop Mystery series by Barbara Early. I found it to be a delightfully fun read! Stay tuned after my review for an interview with the author!

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Synopsis

Liz McCall has come to love running her father’s vintage toyshop back home in East Aurora, NY, so when the Train and Toy Show comes to town, she’s all aboard for a fun toy-filled weekend. The only hitch is that her childhood bully Craig McFadden, now local business rival, has set up a booth next to hers. But the fun and games are over when Craig falls from the ceiling in a publicity stunt gone wrong.

What was initially thought to be a fatal accident proves much more sinister. Pulled into the case by her feelings for both Ken, the police chief, and Jack, her high school sweetheart whose brother is one the prime suspects, Liz dives headfirst into the investigation. But as she digs deeper, she’s shocked to learn her father may have been the intended target.

The trouble train is barreling down and Liz may have just bought herself a first class ticket in Murder on the Toy Town Express, Barbara Early’s delightful second installment in her Vintage Toyshop mysteries.

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Review

This was a delightful Christmas read! I love model trains to begin with, so I was looking forward to reading this one. I was not disappointed. 🙂 I have not read the first book in the series, but I did not have any trouble following the story line or knowing who each of the characters were.

I enjoyed our main characters. Liz is a great heroine. She does take some risks, but they’re calculated and she at least attempts to take someone with her to help with safety, even if that doesn’t always work as well as she hopes. I like both Ken and Jack. We’ll see down the line who ends up being the winner of Liz’s affections.

I enjoyed the setting and the descriptions very much. My best friend lives in Buffalo, NY, so I’m somewhat familiar with the area. It was nice to visit the area in the book and know about some of the places and things they were talking about.

The plot line moved along at a steady pace and while I wondered about the villain, I wasn’t positive about them until just before it was revealed.

All in all, it was a fun book to read and I’m looking forward to reading more in the series!

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Author Interview

BARBARA EARLYFirst, I’d like to say thank you to Ms. Early for being willing to answer my questions!

Q1: Do you have a day job in addition to being a writer? If so, what do you do during the day?  Do you enjoy your day job?

Ms. Early’s Answer: I’m happy to saw I don’t have a day job, which is good because I’ve grown accustomed to working in my pajamas, and some employers frown on that. I do, however have four cats who think I’m their bondservant, so…


Q2: Do you set aside time to write every day or do you write more sporadically? When you write, do you aim to complete a set # of pages or words? How does music/other noise affect your concentration when you’re writing?

Ms. Early’s Answer: I tend to write in 1000 word spurts. By the end of 1000 words, my brain needs a break. Depending on how close I am to a deadline, I might repeat that process one, two, or more times. I can have music in the background, as long as it’s soft and instrumental, but I don’t need it to write. As to whether I write every day, ideally I would, but real life has a nasty habit of intervening.


Q3: When you’re writing, do your characters seem to “hijack” the story or do you feel like you have the “reins” of the story? Similarly, do you outline your book first or just sit down and write, seeing where it takes you?

Ms. Early’s Answer: I like to think I use a mix of the two. I definitely outline the mystery plot carefully. I can’t imagine making sure all the clues were buried and all the elements in place—and in the proper order—without one. There’s a certain cadence I want to achieve, and a balance of mystery, excitement, and humor that I feel help keep a story moving along.

I do, on the other hand, leave certain elements open for the characters to “decide” on their own. Any romantic subplots, for instance. In those cases, my outline might tell me who’s in a scene, but instead of trying to cram words into their mouths, I try to predict how they would respond and what they would say when put into that situation. They’ve surprised me more than once!

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Q4: How did you break into the publishing world? How many rejections did you go through before finding a publisher? Did you ever think about quitting? If so, what did you do to keep yourself hopeful?

Ms. Early’s Answer: My journey may be a little different from many other writers. I didn’t initially set out to be a writer. It started out as a fun diversion for me, but the more I did it, the more interested (and maybe a little obsessed) I became in the process and in finding ways to improve my writing. I’d heard, of course, that it can be incredibly hard to be published, so instead of making that my goal, I decided just to keep working, keep improving, and see how far it would take me. I learned something through every setback, though honestly, I didn’t have a lot of rejections.

There’s not anything about the writing process that made me want to give up before I got published. The business aspects of being a professional writer, however, are a whole different set of skills and provide a new set of frustrations, and I will admit being tempted to quit since I’ve been published. Not sure those characters in my head will let me, though, and usually a box of shiny new books, a letter from a reader, or a kind review will shake me out of the idea.


Q5: In general, how many revisions do you go through before a book is published? Do you have beta readers or is it just your editing team and their suggestions? Do you set your books aside for a period of time and then pick them up and edit them?

Ms. Early’s Answer: I go through so many revisions, I’m not sure I can count them all. Before the book gets to editors, I have a critique group that works through some chapters, although there’s never enough time to finish the whole book. (Which is my sneaky way of ensuring at least six sales, since they all want to know how it ends!) I have a few beta readers I can call on, and my husband is kind enough to go through my books several times as well, at various stages of the process.

Ideally, I do like to let a manuscript rest after finishing the draft. Deadlines don’t always allow for that.


Q6: A good villain is hard to write. How did you get in touch with your inner villain(s) to write this book. Was there a real-life inspiration for him/her/it?

Ms. Early’s Answer: This might sound unsettling, but I don’t know that killers are all that much different from any other character—or from you and me.  An example I like to use is Sheriff Andy Taylor—from the old television show. One could hardly find a more friendly and innocuous fellow. When I teach a workshop on creating villains, I ask the class if they can imagine any situation in which he would become a killer. They think for a good while, then hands start going up. Yes, if anyone touched Opie or Aunt Bee, he’d be on them in a shot.

So in creating a villain, I create a character, then imagine what back story or pressing circumstance would lend a strong enough motive to this—otherwise normal—person to kill. I actually think cozy mysteries lend themselves to the most chilling villains, in that they’re not some predictable psycho stalker with pictures all over his wall, but a neighbor or colleague. They’re, as Mr. Rogers would say, the people in your neighborhood.

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Q7: Do any family members, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, etc. end up showing up in your work or are your characters all truly fictional?

Ms. Early’s Answer: It’s almost impossible to create a fictional character out of thin air. What we know about people is all derived from those we meet. That being said, I try to borrow elements of different people and mix and match them to create something new. (Kind of like those old books with the cut pages, where you could get the head of one character, the torso of another, and the legs of a third.)  I’ll also sometimes name a character after someone, especially if they ask nicely and it seems to fit the character, but that’s not to imply it is that person. Just namesakes.


Q8: If you could write about anyone fiction/nonfiction, contemporary/historical who would you write about? Why?

Ms. Early’s Answer: That’s a tough one. I don’t know if I have an answer to that one. I started out writing fan fiction for Monk, and he was a lot of fun to write. Would I go back? Not sure. I think I’m having too much fun creating new people.


Q9: What are some great books you’ve read recently?

Ms. Early’s Answer: I recently finished Rhys Bowen’s On Her Majesty’s Frightfully Secret Service. Up next is Laura Levine’s newest Jaine Austen book.

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Q10: What books have influenced your life the most?

Ms. Early’s Answer: In my entire life? I’d probably say the Bible and Nancy Drew.


Q11: If you could spend one day with a character from your book who would it be? And what would you do during that day?

Ms. Early’s Answer: I’d be playing board games with Liz McCall. Seems she and I share that common interest. (Valerie’s Note: Me too!!!)


Q12: Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Have you ever learned anything from a bad review and incorporated it into your future work?

I peek at reviews. I don’t always read them. I generally don’t respond, and NEVER to a bad review. I’ve made tweaks based on well-thought-out critical reviews—for example, someone said they loved the two older ladies in Death of a Toy Soldier and hoped they would be back. I hadn’t intended to return them, but I added them into a short scene in the second book, and brought them back into the third.

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a truly negative review that held anything learnable. Much of what they say is subjective. What one reader hated, others loved, so you can’t please everyone.

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Thank you again, Ms. Early, for agreeing to answer my questions today! Thank you to my wonderful readers for stopping by today and reading today’s review and post! If you wish to visit other stops on the tour, please click on the banner below to visit the main tour page with a list of tour participants!

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BLOG TOUR – Death Overdue – REVIEW, INTERVIEW

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3.5 out of 5 stars

Welcome! Today I’m featuring a stop on the Great Lakes Virtual Book Tour for Death Overdue, the first in the new Haunted Library Mystery series by Allison Brook.  It was a decent start to the series.  After my review, you’ll find an interview with the author!

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Synopsis

Carrie Singleton is just about done with Clover Ridge, Connecticut until she’s offered a job as the head of programs and events at the spooky local library, complete with its own librarian ghost. Her first major event is a program presented by a retired homicide detective, Al Buckley, who claims he knows who murdered Laura Foster, a much-loved part-time library aide who was bludgeoned to death fifteen years earlier. As he invites members of the audience to share stories about Laura, he suddenly keels over and dies.

The medical examiner reveals that poison is what did him in and Carrie feels responsible for having surged forward with the program despite pushback from her director. Driven by guilt, Carrie’s determined to discover who murdered the detective, convinced it’s the same man who killed Laura all those years ago. Luckily for Carrie, she has a friendly, knowledgeable ghost by her side. But as she questions the shadows surrounding Laura’s case, disturbing secrets come to light and with each step Carrie takes, she gets closer to ending up like Al.

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Review

While it was definitely a decent start to a new series, this book was not my favorite. It was somewhat of a fun read, but somewhat predictable.

Let’s start with the positives. I love the premise of the series. Being a librarian myself, I’m always happy when my cozy series either has a librarian as the main character and/or takes place in a library.

I really enjoyed the characters. I love the main character, Carrie. She’s smart and determined, but for the most part she doesn’t deliberately go and put herself in danger. She’s well-rounded, complex and a joy to read about. I also like Dylan a lot and look forward to seeing more of him in coming books. The side characters like Uncle Bosco and Sally, the library director, were well done too. They were well-developed and complex characters as well.

The settings for this series were well done. There was a good mix of information and letting one’s imagination work.

The down part for me? I didn’t care about the mystery at all. I just didn’t care about Laura Foster or Al so I didn’t care who killed them.  I was far more wrapped up and interested in the library politics and the subplots than I was in the mystery.

However, since I love the characters and premise so much, I am willing to give this series another shot and will definitely be reading the next one in the series. I’m hoping the mystery will be more interesting in that one! All in all, it’s a decent start to the series. Try it! Maybe you’ll be more into the mystery than I was.

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Author Interview

First I’d like to say a huge thank you to Allison Brook for being willing to answer my questions.

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  1. Do you have a day job in addition to being a writer? If so, what do you do during the day?  Do you enjoy your day job?
    Ms. Brook’s Answer: I do not have a day job.
    Many years ago I taught high school Spanish.
  2. Do you set aside time to write every day or do you write more sporadically? When you write, do you aim to complete a set # of pages or words? How does music/other noise affect your concentration when you’re writing?
    Ms. Brook’s Answer: I write almost every weekday. I like to write between 2 and 4 pages each day. I do not listen to music as I write.
  3. When you’re writing, do your characters seem to “hijack” the story or do you feel like you have the “reigns” of the story? Similarly, do you outline your book first or just sit down and write, seeing where it takes you?
    Ms. Brook’s Answer: When I begin a book, I know how the first third or quarter of the book will go and have a sketchy outline for the rest. My characters exert their personalities, and in that sense influence the actions they take and their relationships with one another. I usually follow an outline, though in my last book I discovered that the plot unfolded in the last two-thirds of the books as I was writing it.
  4. How did you break into the publishing world? How many rejections did you go through before finding a publisher? Did you ever think about quitting? If so, what did you do to keep yourself hopeful?
    Ms. Brook’s Answer: My first book—a juvenile novel—was published many years ago when publishing was very different. I don’t remember how many rejections I’d received, but there were many before my agent at the time found a publisher. The paperback was sold to a book club before the hardcover came out, and I thought this was how all my book sales would be. That was not the case, however. I had many dry periods between books. I don’t know what kept me at it. I found myself writing book after book. I did change genres, from children’s books to mysteries. There were rejections at first, but fewer and fewer as many more books got published in print, ebook format and most recently audios.
  5. In general, how many revisions do you go through before a book is published? Do you have beta readers or is it just your editing team and their suggestions? Do you set your books aside for a period of time and then pick them up and edit them?
    Ms. Brook’s Answer: Nowadays I write a novel then go over it, and go over it once again. I have had beta readers and they have been helpful in finding grammar errors or discrepancies such as calling a character by the wrong name or my weekday going from Tuesday to Thursday and skipping Wednesday. I rely on my editor to edit my book after I do the best editing job I possibly can. I don’t set my books aside before the editing process.  

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  1. A good villain is hard to write. How did you get in touch with your inner villain(s) to write this book. Was there a real-life inspiration for him/her/it?
    Ms. Brook’s Answer: My villains aren’t. They don’t go around sporting a handlebar mustache and an evil laugh. After all, I write mysteries and part of the fun of reading mysteries for the reader is trying to discover the murderer before he or she is revealed at the end of the book. My villains are people who kill for a variety of reasons. They might have a sense of entitlement, they might act out of hatred or resentment, be driven by jealousy or revenge, murder for money or power. They are complex characters and manage to keep their evil sides hidden. I don’t have any real-life villains in mind as I write my books.
  2. Do any family members, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, etc. end up showing up in your work or are your characters all truly fictional?
    Ms. Brook’s Answer: Once I start a story, my characters take on a life of their own. I believe we’re all influenced by people we know, but I’ve written many books and, if anything, my characters might have the aspect of one person and another aspect of someone else. I have never deliberately used a real person as a model for one of my characters.
  3. If you could write about anyone fiction/nonfiction, contemporary/historical who would you write about? Why?
    Ms. Brook’s Answer: Arthur Conan Doyle comes to mind, because he had to have had a brilliant mind to have come up with a sleuth like Sherlock Holmes. Also, his medical training and the way Holmes studies clues and evidence led to the creation of real-life forensics.
  4. What are some great books you’ve read recently? .
    Ms. Brook’s Answer: I just finished reading a delightful mystery, The Deep Blue Alibi by Paul Levine. Also Lisa See’s The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale and The Confessions of Young Nero by Margaret George
  5. What books have influenced your life the most?
    Ms. Brook’s Answer: No doubt the mysteries I read as a child—the Trixie Belden, Judy Bolton, and Nancy Drew series, since I love writing mysteries. A children’s book called The Golden Bird by Kathleen Field was given to me by my great-aunt when I was nine. It was already old when I received it. I treasure it still.
  6. If you could spend one day with a character from your book who would it be? And what would you do during that day?
    Ms. Brook’s Answer: I would enjoy spending the day with Carrie, my sleuth in DEATH OVERDUE. Carrie is Head of Programs and Events in the Clover Ridge Library and gets to set up programs. I’d love to spend the day on a library trip she leads—to Manhattan or somewhere out East like the LongHouse Reserve—a delightful garden in East Hampton filled with wonderful sculptures.
  7. Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Have you ever learned anything from a bad review and incorporated it into your future work?
    Ms. Brook’s Answer: I do read my reviews. I’m happy when reviewers and readers indicate they’ve enjoyed my books. Most of my reviews are very favorable, so I take the few negative ones in stride. Sometimes what readers criticize has little to do with the book. Some people use reviews to let off steam, to be vindictive. No, I can’t say I’ve learned anything from a bad review that I incorporated in future projects.

Thank you again to Ms. Brook for agreeing to answer my questions! Thank YOU, my wonderful readers for joining me today. If you wish to visit other stops on the tour, please click on the banner below which will take you to the main tour page with a list of tour participants!

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Computer Issues

Well, I had two posts to share but my computer is NOT cooperating and I don’t have patience to coax it along tonight.

I’ll have to tackle it at work tomorrow. Sorry all. 😦

BLOG TOUR – Cookies, Corpses, & the Deadly Haunt – REVIEW & INTERVIEW

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4 out of 5 stars.

Welcome! Today I’m hosting a spot on the Great Lakes Virtual Book Tour for Cookies, Corpses & the Deadly Haunt by Rachael Stapleton. This is the first book in the Haunted House Flippers, Inc. series. It was a fun read all the way through. Following my review of the book, I’ll also be including an interview with the author, Rachael Stapleton.

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Synopsis

House flippers Jack & Juniper agree to lend and help prep their latest purchase—The Doctors House—an old Victorian mansion to act as the eerie setting for the town’s Halloween bash, they’re expecting to find missing floor boards, and pesky bats, not the ghostly specter of the murdered Doctors Wife.  But when the head of the council is found stuffed in a trunk in the attic, it appears history is repeating.

As Junie and the team, carry on with party preparations, they unravel a century of family secrets, whispers of lunacy—and the number one suspect goes on the run. But the victim’s family insists that the ball must go on, even with a killer on the loose. With Halloween fast approaching, Junie sees the woman in white and wonders if keeping the killer out was ever really a possibility. Now she’s desperate to unmask the killer before the Annual Halloween Bash turns into even more of a deadly haunt…

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Review

As I said above, this was a fun read all the way through. I enjoyed it quite a bit.

The main characters, Juniper, Jack, and Pike seem to be well-rounded, complex characters. I’m looking forward to learning more about them further in the series. The side characters were also interesting. I was pretty sure who the villain was (and I was right), but that didn’t take away from the characters or even the story line.

The setting descriptions were well done. I could imagine the restoration that Jack and Junie were doing, the town, and the Halloween bash easily, but with still enough room to let my imagination fill in some of the details.

The story line moved along at a decent pace. As I said, even tho’ I figured out who the villain was way before the end, that didn’t take away from the story line. It still held my attention. That doesn’t always happen for me. Sometimes if I figure out who the villain is, the rest of the book just doesn’t hold my attention. Thankfully this one did.

All in all, I enjoyed this book and found it fun to read. I’m looking forward to reading more in the series!

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Author Interview

Today, not only do I have the review for you, but also an interview with the author, Rachael Stapleton. Thank you to Ms. Stapleton for being willing to answer my questions!

Q1: Do you have a day job in addition to being a writer? If so, what do you do during the day?  Do you enjoy your day job?

Ms. Stapleton’s Answer: I worked in advertising for ten years prior to writing full-time. The only thing I miss is strutting about in pretty pencil skirts and heels every day. I tried doing it at home but my animals were judging me. So, now I stick to pajamas, rompers, yoga pants and knits. It’s a tough life.


Q2: Do you set aside time to write every day or do you write more sporadically? When you write, do you aim to complete a set # of pages or words? How does music/other noise affect your concentration when you’re writing?

Ms. Stapleton’s Answer: Writing is a full-time job for me, so I treat it as a business, and most definitely write every day. I wake up around 7am and prep the kids for school (after a large mug of coffee). Once I’ve taken them to school and done my morning fasted cardio, I make egg whites and have another coffee. Then I sit with my laptop in my recliner chair in my home office and handle my marketing until about 10:30am. If I am in the writing phase of a book, I’ll most likely find myself sucked into the magical cozy little world I’ve created until it’s time to pick the kids up at 3pm. During my writing phase it’s hard for me to break to eat or drink. I get pretty absorbed in my world. And yes, noise really bothers me. If I’m editing, I typically take a break around 1:30 for lunch and then get back to it. After I pick the kids up, it’s usually back to work, either to continue writing or to focus on marketing and revising for an hour. Then it’s time to make dinner and usually the gym to lift weights/kids after-school activities/sports.


Q3: When you’re writing, do your characters seem to “hijack” the story or do you feel like you have the “reigns” of the story? Similarly, do you outline your book first or just sit down and write, seeing where it takes you?

Ms. Stapleton’s Answer: Yes, they hijack and I love it I have supporting characters that refused to play nicely, so much so, that I had to create an alternate series. Then the same thing happened again, so I had to create a third crossover series, which is why Penning Trouble, Haunted House Flippers and Bohemian Murder Manor are all set in Bohemian Lake. I’m finding in all three of these story lines, there is still one character that pretty much writes herself, and that is the rebellious Eve Berns. She is politically incorrect, narcissist, and funny as hell, and she is a combination of the feisty no-nonsense women in my life.

I don’t sit down to physically outline, but I do create scaffolding. I start by recording my overall story when the idea hits me. My fingers can’t keep up with my brain at this point, so I have to use dictation. After that, I go through the summary; usually my rants will include detailed scenes and sections of the book, so I’ll start there. From that point on, I make sure there’s a frame for the entire story. It’s like building a house. You need the walls to go up before you can paint and decorate. I typically start to write chapter by chapter, but I’m not ruled by order. Sometimes chapter ten gets written before chapter two. It’s whatever characters and scenes are popping up in my head that day. That’s just how it goes.

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Q4: In general, how many revisions do you go through before a book is published? Do you have beta readers or is it just your editing team and their suggestions? Do you set your books aside for a period of time and then pick them up and edit them?

Ms. Stapleton’s Answer: I have written books in a slew of different ways, but if I’ve learned anything, it’s that setting books aside to percolate does not work for me. I am a start to finish, obsessive writer. My ideas come to me usually in a dream, after a long walk or in the shower, and the idea is pretty much a full story when it hits me. My mind is bursting, and it is impossible for my fingers to keep up with my brain (I’ve tried) so I dictate the whole book right there in that moment. I wind up with a full outline including detailed scenes, and chapters where key elements/red herrings etc. must happen. When I’m done it kind of looks like a 10-20 page synopsis with detailed scenes written out in spots. After that, I download it to my Kindle, and read it while relaxing in the sun. Then I make revisions and in the past I had a writers group that I went to weekly. We did a chapter a week, but that hasn’t happened regularly since I moved. I typically have two editors now that read everything I write and while my editor is going through book one; I’m wrapping up book two so it can be sent off immediately after. I like to think of myself as a well-organized machine, or at least I’m getting there.


Q5: A good villain is hard to write. How did you get in touch with your inner villain(s) to write this book. Was there a real-life inspiration for him/her/it?

Ms. Stapleton’s Answer: My editor, Susan says I have a gift for writing the creepiest characters. I take that as a compliment. Now that I’m writing more cozies as opposed to straight mysteries, I’ve lightened up, but I truly never just write one bad guy. I typically write three, and then I decide at the end just who the red herrings are. I used to write a story with a twist, and then once it was written, I’d twist it upside down again, and make the most unsuspecting person the villain. This is the case with my time travelling bibliophile series, people are usually floored when they get to the final book. I think the best villains are the most unsuspecting people. However, cozy mysteries are a little bit more formulaic, so I don’t twist quite as much as I used to, but that also allows me to write much faster.


Q6: What are some great books you’ve read recently?

Ms. Stapleton’s Answer: I like to read the top books in my category so that I can verify that I’m writing to market, and I read a book in about two days so there are too many to list. Some of my fave authors off the top of my head are: Leighann Dobbs, Diane Vallere, Josie Brown, Lorna Barrett, Jana Deleon, Amanda Lee, Heather Graham & Sara Rosette. Outside of cozy, let me see, I’ve just finished, The Wrong Girl by C.J Archer, which I really enjoyed. I also really liked, How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather.

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Q7: What books have influenced your life the most?

Ms. Stapleton’s Answer: Jana DeLeon’s books made me realize it was okay to be funny when I wrote. Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series inspired me to write in the first place.


Q8: If you could spend one day with a character from your book who would it be? And what would you do during that day?

Ms. Stapleton’s Answer: It would be a toss-up between Juniper, Penelope and Eve. Juniper’s super handy and loves to paint and decorate just as I do. Penelope’s into martial arts and she likes to run, so I’d probably train with her. After that, the three of us could get into some trouble drinking booze from Eve’s inconspicuous medicinal bottles while hatching plans and breaking rules. Perhaps we’d get in a good skinny dip as well. Who knows, maybe the rest of the Bohemian gang would join us.


Q9: Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Have you ever learned anything from a bad review and incorporated it into your future work?

Ms. Stapleton’s Answer: Oh yes, I have read each and every review so far. I read three just today. I can’t wait until I’m so bogged down with reviews that this is impossible, but truly, fan response is irreplaceable. I write for my readers. I like to think I’m giving them a cozy world to crawl into for a couple of hours, the same thing I get from the books I read. There is no better feeling than hearing back from fans that they love my books and can’t wait for the next one. We need more people to write customer reviews on sites like Amazon and Goodreads. These are critically important for our books to attract new readers. And without new readers, we can’t make a sustainable living.

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Thank you again to Ms. Stapleton for being willing to answer my questions! Thank YOU for joining me today. If you wish to visit other stops on the tour, please click on the banner below. That will take you to the main tour page where you can find a list of other tour participants.

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