BLOG TOUR – A Christmas Peril – REVIEW & AUTHOR INTERVIEW

4.5 out of 5 stars.

Today, I’m happy to be bringing you a stop on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for A Christmas Peril, the first in a new series by J.A. Hennrikus. There will also be an interview with the author after my review!

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Synopsis

When Edwina “Sully” Sullivan’s life imploded, she left behind her job on the police force and her unfaithful husband to start a new life as the general manager of her hometown theater, the Cliffside Theater Company. For five years, she focused on budgets instead of crimes and kept the Cliffside running alongside its mercurial artistic director.

But when her best friend is arrested for killing his father, the rich and powerful Peter Whitehall, no one is looking for another suspect. So, in between keeping A Christmas Carol on budget and Scrooge sober, Sully dusts off her investigative skills to find a killer. Her two lives collide when her ex-husband gets on the suspect list and she’s forced to confront her past in order to save her present.

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Review

This was an absolutely delightful book! It didn’t quite have the pizzazz I look for to push it up to a 5-star rating, it is a solid 4.5 in my opinion.

The characters in this series are great. There was only once where the main character did something absolutely stupid and unsafe. The rest of the time she was well-behaved. Obviously there are some risks in trying to solve a mystery, it just bugs me when the heroine goes off and does stupid stuff or disregards all thoughts of safety. The side characters were fun too. Everyone was well-developed and complex.

The plot line moved along quite well. I’d say steady-fast. It wasn’t so fast that you couldn’t keep up, but it definitely moved along. I had absolutely no idea who the villain was until it was revealed. Honestly, he wasn’t even on my radar, so that was a great twist for me.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I look forward to the next installment whenever that might be!

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Author Interview

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. Hennrikus’s Answer: I run an arts service organization for the New England theater community called StageSource (www.StageSource.org). I’ve worked in arts management for my entire career, and really love what I do. The work I am doing now is particularly rewarding, because it is a behind the scenes organization that supports the entire community.

I also teach arts management classes, which I also enjoy. It is a challenge keeping everything in the air, but worth it.


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. Hennrikus’s Answer: I really, really try to carve out time every day, but that isn’t always possible. Usually I do marathon days on the weekends. When I write, I try and get a scene done, so the word count can vary. I need background noise while I write. I usually have a show on that I’ve seen before, so I don’t pay attention but the voices are with me. MIDSOMER MURDERS is my current writing companion.


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. Hennrikus’s Answer: I am a plotter. A serious plotter. I start with characters, and an idea for the overall story. Then I write it down, and keep writing down the barebones until there is a frame for the entire story. Then I write it all down on plot cards, and use dramatic structure to make sure it will work.

Do characters hijack my stories? Yes, and I love that. I have characters that were supposed to be in one book, and they end up being series regulars. If a character hijacks the story too much, I make a note of it. That character obviously wants their own story, and isn’t good about sharing.

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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. Hennrikus’s Answer: Years ago I joined Sisters In Crime, and that made all the difference in my writing life. Not only did I meet people who understood my journey, I took classes to hone my craft, went to conferences to build my network, and made friends. Wonderful friends, including my fellow Wicked Cozy Authors (WickedCozyAuthors.com): Barbara Ross, Sherry Harris, Liz Mugavero aka Cate Conte, Jessica Estaveo aka Jessie Crockett aka Jessica Ellicott, and Edith Maxwell aka Maddie Day.

A CHRISTMAS PERIL was the first book I tried to sell. I’d written other books, but they are in drawers, and they will stay there. I got lovely rejections for A CHRISTMAS PERIL, but didn’t find an agent or a publisher. Then I was offered the opportunity to write the Clock Shop Mystery series as Julianne Holmes. The idea came from an editor, and I “auditioned” to write the series. The third book, CHIME AND PUNISHMENT, just came out. With that track record, I wrote a proposal for A CHRISTMAS PERIL, and very happily for me, Midnight Ink bought the series.  Proving the adage, dreams do come true, but sometimes the path isn’t a straight one.


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. Hennrikus’s Answer: I plot very heavily, and that helps me with a fairly polished first draft. I do a read through, and then send it out to my first reader, Jason Allen-Forrest. He gets it back to me with notes. Then I do at least two more deep edits on the book

Usually, I have been in a writing loop where one draft bleeds into another. For the manuscript I just turned in, I gave it a chance to “rest”, and that made all the difference. I am trying to incorporate more rest periods in my writing, which is tough given that I write two books a year.


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. Hennrikus’s Answer: Working in theater has been a gift to me for regarding characters. Every actor will tell you that they have to find something redeeming about their characters in order to play them. Villains don’t think that they are villains.

In mysteries, villains are driven to commit a crime, and usually they can justify that. I will confess, when I first wrote A CHRISTMAS PERIL I had another villain in mind, but after I worked on it for a while I realized I had the wrong killer.

Most of my characters, including my villains, have parts of people I know in them. The villains? I’ll never tell.

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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. Hennrikus’s Answer: Between borrowing names and creating characters, there is a lot of my real life that shows up in my fiction. Happily, so far, it has worked out. I am also very fortunate in that I know and work with a lot of people, so there is a lot to draw from. Usually, it is a quirk, or a trait, or an experience that I borrow.

I was once in a very volatile meeting, and I kept my cool throughout. A colleague followed me into my office, and demanded to know how I always kept so calm. I told her that I plotted a murder during the meeting, and that helped. Then I smiled, so she thought I was kidding. I wasn’t, of course.


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

Ms. Hennrikus’s Answer: What an interesting question! I think about that. I have friends who write historical fiction, and I applaud them their research and attention to detail. I don’t think I could do it.

I do think about non-fiction, and some of the extraordinary women who we don’t know enough about. I’m not sure I would write about a specific woman as much as I would write about a time. We are coming up to the centennial of white women getting the right to vote in the United States. (It took women of color longer.) That subject fascinates me.


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

Ms. Hennrikus’s Answer: I am on a summer reading binge of Louise Penny, and I am enjoying it tremendously. I had never read her before, so I have catching up to do!

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Q10: What books have influenced your life the most?

Ms. Hennrikus’s Answer: My life or my writing? My writing has been influenced by Agatha Christie, Elizabeth Peters, Dorothy Sayers, Elizabeth George and others. Specific books? If you could see my triple shelved bookshelves, you’d know I can’t answer that question, at least not easily!


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. Hennrikus’s Answer: I would spend the day with Sully. We’d go to the Beef and Ale, have burgers and fries, and a good local brew. I hope we’d have charming actors like Steward Tracy joining us. Then we’d go back over, and watch rehearsal for a while. We’d end up back at her carriage house, drinking wine and talking about the show.


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?

Ms. Hennrikus’s Answer: Again, my theater life helps me with this a bit. I don’t seek reviews out. If I happen upon one, I may read it, but I likely won’t. Reviews are useful when they are constructive, but “like” or “don’t like” are matters of opinion. The reviews that matter to me are the reviews I get from my editors, and folks who read my manuscripts, because I can still change the work. Once it is published, there’s nothing I can do.

The only way I engage with reviewers is to thank them. It is a lot of work, and a service to authors and readers.

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A huge thank you to J.A. Hennrikus for being willing to answer my questions! Thanks for joining me today on the latest stop of the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for A Christmas Peril by J.A. Hennrikus.  If you wish to visit other sites on the tour, please click on the banner below. It will take you to the main tour page where you will find a list of participants and links to their blogs.

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REVIEW – World of the Innocent

5 out of 5 stars.

Today I’m bringing you a review of World of the Innocent by Nadine Keels. I absolutely fell in love with this book, hence the 5 star rating.  Below the review is also an interview with the author!

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Synopsis

Jhoi: she’s poetic. She’s guarded. And she couldn’t imagine having much to do with a guy like Marcas. Sure, Marcas is a brilliant fellow artist, admired by plenty of fans. But he’s so remarkably…strange.

Still, Marcas touches Jhoi’s soul. And through the counsel of a shrewd old neighbor, Jhoi will discover a link between intimate friendship and becoming a steward of an era.

A tale of love, enduring belief, and the meaning of innocence—based on a true story.

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Review

WOW. That’s the first thing I said when I finished this book. Just WOW. This book totally blew me away. It’s in my top five of “the most romantic books I’ve ever read”, especially considering there wasn’t much physical intimacy. Plenty of emotional intimacy, just not much physical. And yet, still one of the most romantic books I’ve ever read.

Our main characters, Jhoi (pronounced Joy), Marcas, and Nathan are all wonderful. They’re complex characters and very well-rounded considering it’s not a very long book. I just love Jhoi. She reminds me a lot of myself with her reluctance to get involved with anyone or even casually date.

The plot line moves along steadily. I felt the pace was just right. It wasn’t too fast but not so slow that it wasn’t believable. The twist at the end made me breathless. In hind sight, I wondered if I should have seen it coming, but I didn’t. I won’t say any more because I don’t want to spoil it for the rest of you.

highly recommend this book. I think it was fabulous and I think you will too!

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Interview with Nadine Keels

Before we get into the questions and Ms. Keels’ answers, I first just want to say thank you to Ms. Keels for asking me to read her book and for being willing to answer these questions for me!

Q1: Do you set aside time to write every day or do you write more sporadically?

Ms. Keels’ Answer: Ah! Well, I’m not at my computer every day, pounding out words, and not all my time to write is “set aside.” But do I write every day? Yes. Because writing isn’t only something I do. I am a writer, and my whole life factors into what eventually ends up on the page. Living is all a part of my writing process, so in essence, I’m always writing.


Q2: Do you set your books aside for a period of time and then pick them up and edit them?

Ms. Keels’ Answer: Oh, yeah, I give my manuscripts time to “marinate” before I get more technical with them. Have to just let a story resonate for a while, make sure the journey is complete and my characters have truly spoken their piece.


Q3: Do any family members, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, etc. end up showing up in your work or are your characters all truly fictional? 

Ms. Keels’ Answer: Ha! I don’t know if there’s even a such thing as a truly—or perhaps I should say “wholly”—fictional character. All character traits are going to come from somewhere, from some part of the author’s observation or experience. One way or another, whether it’s intentional or not, or whether or not it’s even noticeable, the people in an author’s life are going to end up in that author’s books.

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Q4: What are some great books you’ve read recently?

Ms. Keels’ Answer: Might be an unusual answer, but I’ve been rereading the Ramona Quimby books by Beverly Cleary. I mean, I loved the books when I was a little girl because I saw so much of myself in Ramona. Revisiting the books now, I can see how wise the stories actually are and how much Cleary truly has an understanding of human nature, from children to adults.


Q5: 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. Keels’ Answer: Yup, I read my reviews. Most of them, anyway. I thank the reviewers, if they’re people I personally requested a review from. But I don’t comment on reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, etc. Book reviews are posted in those places for readers, so I don’t think a reader’s message to other readers is the place for an author to step in and have his/her say.

I do think much can be gained from authors actually listening to the folks they’re writing for, though, so I pay attention to how my books are affecting the people reading them. I have taken into account concerns from reviewers on technical points, but when a reviewer’s concern or dislike is simply a matter of different tastes, I’m fine with their being entitled to their taste, and my being entitled to mine.


Q6: Do you have any hobbies? What are they?

Ms. Keels’ Answer: Is it lame for a writer to say her hobby is writing? Teeheehee. One of this bibliophile’s biggest hobbies is writing about the books she reads. That is, I absolutely love book blogging! Also, because stories are my passion, whether literary or visual, I’ve become almost as much of a cinephile as I am a bibliophile. I so enjoy watching films and discussing them with folks who appreciate them as much as I do.

BLOG TOUR – Vangie Vale & the Murdered Macaron – REVIEW, INTERVIEW

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4 out of 5 stars.

Today I’m pleased to be bringing you the latest stop on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for Vangie Vale & the Murdered Macaron by R.L. Syme. This was a delightful book to read and I enjoyed it. Stay tuned for an interview with the author after the review.

** Update 8/7/17 ** Yesterday I still didn’t feel well, so updates to the post had to wait until today, but I’m happy to report that we now have more formatting, purchase links, a link to the item on Goodreads, and links to the author’s sites, plus graphics to help break up the text. Thank you for being patient as I dealt with my migraine and the aftermath.

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Synopsis

Small towns and gossip go together like flaky crust and sweet pastry cream. Between the police scanners, social media, and the senior center, it’s like a zombie apocalypse where they consume people’s secrets instead of living flesh. But Vangie Vale wants nothing more than to stay under the radar…especially the police radar.

So when her new bakery becomes linked to a murder investigation, nothing will stop the gossip mill from connecting her to the dead body. Can’t have that.

Forced back into the role of investigator, this newly-arrived-in-town part-time bakery owner has to become the very thing she hates–a nosy, small-town gossip–in order to clear her good name, and keep her face off the front page. But when a date-gone-wrong brings her face-to-face with the Sheriff, Vangie can’t ignore the fact that one of her macarons was involved in a murder. She has to find out who-dun-it.

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Review

As I said above, the book was a delightful read and I enjoyed it. I like our main character, Vangie. Sometimes she drove me a little nuts because she had a tendency to put herself into situations that held the possibility of danger without really thinking too much, but she didn’t do that often, so I didn’t get too annoyed by it.

I had mixed feelings about most of the supporting characters throughout the book. As we got more into the back story of the town and its people, I understood the characters motivations better and started to like some of them more, but there were enough red herrings in this book that I was suspicious of most of the townspeople and characters until the villain was actually revealed.

The plot line moved along at a steady and somewhat quick pace, though it wasn’t so quick that you couldn’t keep up. This was a fun read and I recommend it to anyone looking for a good whodunit.

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Interview

First, let me say a huge thank you to R.L. Syme 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?

I don’t. I’m lucky enough to be able to write full-time. I love it. I used to have non-writing jobs, though, and I’ve done so many different jobs, mostly in the nonprofit arena. Theater, music, church, youth, restaurants… all great experiences for me to take from in the writing.

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?

I write every day. Pretty much during the same hours every day, too, unless I’m on deadline, and then I’ll probably write more. I usually try to write a specific number of hours, rather than a word count. That way I know I’ll always get it done.

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?

With Vangie, I definitely feel like the story was hers, and she took over. It might be because I feel like I know her so well, I can predict what she does. I love knowing a character that well.

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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?

I definitely went through a lot of rejections first. I never thought about quitting before…I’ve thought about quitting after. Lol. It’s definitely hard work. But I love it. To keep myself hopeful, I try to focus on the characters and the story I’m telling. I want to see them get their justice or their happy ending.

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?

Macaron went through three pretty major revisions. Normally, I don’t do that many, but this book has a lot of moving parts. I have two editors and several beta readers, and they are so helpful. I definitely set the book aside after every draft or every read-through. I like it to be fresh when I look at it.

6) 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?

The thing I love about mystery is that the villain is usually someone who has a really good reason for doing what they did. They just got desperate. I think that’s what I like so much. I get to sort of write normal people who just get carried away because they want something so much. I think that’s what makes mystery so interesting.

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

My characters are definitely fictional. I try to make them as real as I can, so I almost always have pieces of something familiar in them, but I never write a one-to-one correlation of a person. I don’t think it’s fair to try to tell someone’s story so completely like that. But I also want them to feel real.

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

That’s a great question. I’ve always wanted to do non-fiction, about TS Eliot. In fact, I worked on a fiction book about TS Eliot for a long time, but it never quite came to fruition. But there’s always a chance I will go back to that idea someday. I love TS Eliot.

9) What are some great books you’ve read recently?

I’m just finishing a re-read of Tana French’s The Likeness, and I’m really enjoying it. I’ve read all of her Dublin Murder Squad books, and I think they’re my favorite series out right now.

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10) What books have influenced your life the most?

I’d be lying if I didn’t say The Bible, just because of my religious background. But in addition to that, I’ve been reading thriller and mystery for so long, I’d have a big list of those, as well. Nancy Drew would be up there, and Dean Koontz. John Grisham. But then, additionally, I was an English major, so I’ve read all the classics, and those have influenced me a lot, as well. Poetry, too. Eliot and Hopkins most notably.

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

It would absolutely be Derek Hobson. And I’d be okay with just riding on his bike. Although maybe a little B&E, too…. #sigh

12) 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 usually don’t respond to reviews. I did once, on one of my very first books, and I learned from the experience that it’s not my job to tell readers what they did and didn’t experience during my books. I’ve learned that I have to be really okay with putting the book out into the world and letting people think what they’re going to think. Not everyone will like every book, and reviews are supposed to help readers find the books they will and won’t like. As a good friend says, reviews are for readers, not for authors.

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Thanks so much for having me!

And THANK YOU for being willing to answer my questions today!! 🙂

Author’s Links

 

If you wish to follow the rest of the blog tour, click on the banner below and it will take you to the main tour page with the schedule of blogs!

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BLOG TOUR – Shadow Girl – REVIEW & INTERVIEW

Large Banner - Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours Presents: Shadow Girl by Gerry Schmitt - July 31-August 13, 2017 - includes the author's photo and the book cover

4 out of 5 stars.

Hello! Today I’m hosting one of the first stops on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for Gerry Schmitt’s new thriller, Shadow Girl. I’ll be including a review and an interview with the author!

Book Cover: Shadow Girl: An Afton Tangler Thriller by Gerry Schmitt, author of Little Girl Gone - Background is maroon with many small panes of glass and a silhouette of a girl.

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Synopsis

When a medical helicopter is blasted out of the sky, a dying tycoon’s hope for a heart transplant is dashed. But that’s just the beginning of a gruesome crime spree that leaves Afton Tangler, family liaison officer, and the Minneapolis PD reeling. Vicious crime boss Mom Chao Cherry has sworn to avenge her husband’s death and recover her stolen narcotics – and nothing can stop her.

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Review

This was definitely a non-cozy mystery and definitely suspenseful, but I’m not sure I’d consider it a thriller. It didn’t really have the fast-paced story line that I’m used to having in a thriller. It moved along steadily, it just didn’t seem as fast-paced as most thrillers I’ve read. Overall, it’s a good book, but it wasn’t real fast-paced (tho’ it wasn’t slow either) and I felt the ending was a bit anti-climatic, which is why I only gave it a 4-star rating.

This is my first book in the series and I will be going back to read the first one in the series at some point. I enjoyed the characters a lot. Max and Afton seem to play off of each other well as far as figuring things out. Technically, Afton’s not supposed to be doing that type of police work as she’s not officially an officer, but they work really well together so Max lets her tag along a lot more than he’s “supposed” to. They’re both well-rounded and developed characters. I think the more the series progresses, the more complexity we’ll see in them.

The plot line definitely was interesting! I was not at all bored reading this book which is a definite plus. It moves along steadily and has some sub-plots going on to help keep it moving along, but as I stated above, I felt the ending was a bit anti-climatic for the suspense level throughout the book. I don’t want to spoil it though.

Overall, this is a well-written, good book and I would recommend it as a suspense novel if you’re at all interested in that genre. If you’ve read it, I’d love to hear your opinion on the ending!

About the Author

Author Photo: Gerry Schmitt - middle-aged white woman with blond hair and no glasses - wearing a black shirt and leaning against a stack of her books

 

Gerry Schmitt is the author of the just-released novel Shadow Girl, the second book in her Afton Tangler Thriller series. Under the pen name Laura Childs, she is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Tea Shop Mysteries, Scrapbooking Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries. In Gerry’s previous life she was CEO of her own marketing firm, authored several screenplays, and produced a reality TV show.

 

Author’s Links: Webpage – Facebook

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Author Interview

Before I get on to the questions, I just wanted to say “Thank you!” to Ms. Schmitt for being willing to answer my questions! It’s always a thrill to me when authors agree to answer the questions I send out, whether through a blog tour or not!

Q1: Do you have a day job in addition to being a writer?

Ms. Schmitt’s response: Nope. I sold my ad agency to my business partner 14 years ago and never looked back. I’ve always been a professional writer, so switching to novel writing was very natural to me.


Q2: Do you set aside time to write every day or do you write sporadically?

Ms. Schmitt’s response: I write every day, all day. I currently write 4 different series, the Afton Tangler Thrillers under my own name, and the Tea Shop Mysteries, Scrapbook Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries under the pen name Laura Childs. So writing every day (and many evenings) is what it takes to get all this accomplished!


Q3: When you’re writing, do your characters seem to “hijack” your stories or do you feel like you’re in control?

Ms. Schmitt’s response: Since I always begin my books with an 80 to 100 page outline, I always remain in total control. Also, since my books are all continuing series, I pretty much know what I need to do with my characters – how far I can push them or subject them to stress.

 


Q4: How did you break into the publishing world?

Ms. Schmitt’s response: I had a dear friend who put me in touch with mystery great Mary Higgins Clark. Mary invited me to the Mystery Writers of American Symposium in New York and was kind enough to introduce me to several editors and agents. My career took off with zero rejections, thank goodness.


Q5: How many revisions do you go through before a book is published? Do you have beta readers or is it just your editing team?

Ms. Schmitt’s response: Since I start with a tight outline, I really don’t do revisions as such. I begin my outline on a large sheet of paper and plug in all my actions, characters, and turning points. I transfer that to my computer and run the outline up to about 100 pages. When it feels right, I go back to chapter one and write my book straight through. Once I’m finished, I set the book aside for a couple of weeks, then I go through it 2 or 3 more times to punch it up. You know, there hasn’t been a thing written that couldn’t use a little punching up. And, yes, my Penguin Random House team takes over from there.


Q6: A good villain is hard to write. How did you get in touch with your inner villain?

Ms. Schmitt’s response: For me, the easiest character to write is a villain. You can make them evil, conniving, greedy, angry, arrogant . . . all the sociopathic things that most people are not. And think about it, aren’t villains kind of fun? Think Hannibal Lecter. Or the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood. See what I mean?

 


Q7: Do any family members, friends, colleagues, etc. show up in your work?

Ms. Schmitt’s response: Not yet. But if they misbehave, you never know . . .


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

Ms. Schmitt’s response: Coco Chanel. A claw-her-way-to-the-top orphan turned dressmaker who, at age 64, took a Nazi lover during World War II. Coco famously bragged: “When a woman my age has a chance to take a lover, she does not ask to see his passport.” Now that’s some kind of crazy!

 


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

Ms. Schmitt’s response: I loved Golden Prey by John Sandford, The Girls by Emma Cline, and Turbo Twenty-Three by Janet Evanovich.

 


Q10: What books have influenced your life most?

Ms. Schmitt’s response: I’d have to say the Nancy Drew books I read as a kid. They just knocked me out and made me yearn to become a mystery writer. I mean, The Inn of the Twisted Candles or The Tolling Bell! How can you resist books like that?


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

Ms. Schmitt’s response: I’d probably spend the day with Theodosia from the Tea Shop Mysteries. She could give me tea making tips. Lord knows, I could use some!


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?

Ms. Schmitt’s response: To be honest, the only reviews I really look at are the ones that run in Publisher’s Weekly and major newspapers, and those tend to be quite favorable. I suppose there are occasional bad reviews on Amazon, but for goodness sake, people are entitled to their opinion. I’m certainly not wild about every book I read. And some books are so abysmal I don’t bother finishing them!

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Thank you again to Ms. Schmitt for being willing to answer all my questions and with some great answers! That wraps up my stop on the blog tour. If you’d like to visit other sites on the blog tour, please click on the banner below. It will take you to the main tour page with the list of blogs that will be featuring Ms. Schmitt’s book!

Medium banner: Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours Presents: Shadow Girl by Gerry Schmitt - July 31-August 13, 2017 - includes the book cover

 

BLOG TOUR – Too Many Women in the Room – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

Large Banner: Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours Presents: Too Many Women in the Room by Joanne Guidoccio - July 10-July 23, 2017 - includes author photo and book cover

Welcome!

Tho’ I’m a bit late, today I’m hosting an author interview with Joanne Guidoccio, author of Too Many Women in the Room as part of a Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour.

Special thanks to Ms. Guidoccio for agreeing to answer my questions and putting up with the ones that have multiple parts!

Author Joanne Guidoccio - middle aged white woman with short, dark brown hair, and glasses. She's wearing a robin's egg blue shirt with pearls.

Q1: Do you have a day job in addition to being a writer?

Ms. Guidoccio’s Answer: When I retired from a 31-year teaching career, I decided to launch a second career as a writer. Nine years have passed, and while I do write during the day, I don’t think of writing as a “day job.” It’s my passion.


Q2: Do you set aside time to write every day or do you write more sporadically?

Ms. Guidoccio’s Answer: After some experimentation, I came up with a daily regimen. Nothing too dramatic, but it works for me. I like to sleep in each day and enjoy a leisurely breakfast. But after my second cup of coffee, I start writing. My goal is 1,000 words a day. After I reach that quota, I’m free to meet with friends for lunch or coffee and plan other outings.


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?

Ms. Guidoccio’s Answer: I’m a linear pantser. I like to start with a character sketch of the protagonist and a rough draft of the storyline. While the beginning and ending remain constant, there are several plot changes along the way. And I let the characters misbehave.

line of jumbled short, fat pencils in red, blue, green, brown, yellow and purple
© Graphic Garden

Q4: How did you break into the publishing world?

Ms. Guidoccio’s Answer: I wrote the first draft of A Season for Killing Blondes, Book 1 of the Gilda Greco Mystery Series during my “cancer” year and then filed it away. An integral part of my therapy, writing that novel helped me survive and thrive during the most challenging season of my life.

After retiring, I spent a year editing and polishing the manuscript. While querying, I wrote the first draft of Between Land and Sea (a paranormal romance about a middle-aged ex-mermaid) in three months and then spent a year editing and polishing. I was thrilled when Senior Editor Debby Gilbert of Soul Mate Publishing offered me a contract in 2013.

A year later, Editor Johanna Melaragno of The Wild Rose Press picked up A Season for Killing Blondes. The novel was released in June 2015.


Q5: In general, how many revisions do you go through before a book is published?

Ms. Guidoccio’s Answer: After completing the first draft, I put the manuscript aside for at least one month or until I feel I’ve fallen out of love with it. Two more complete revisions follow before sending the manuscript to my editor. Another lengthy revision and then it’s off to my publisher, The Wild Rose Press. Several more revisions follow—anywhere from three to five—and a final proofreading.


Q6: A good villain is hard to write. How did you get in touch with your inner villain(s) to write this book?

Ms. Guidoccio’s Answer: In Too Many Women in the Room, the villains are boomer women. As a fellow boomer, I can identify with many of their issues. I just had to go deeper and darker. Reading psychological thrillers also helped me get into that mindset.

line of books - some stacked, some standing, some leaning - books are blue, brown, red, green, and yellow
©Graphic Garden

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

Ms. Guidoccio’s Answer: Having lived and taught in different cities, I felt free to “borrow” characteristics from friends, colleagues, and students to create composite characters. While the protagonist of the book is approximately 70% of me, the same can’t be said of the other characters. I would be very surprised if anyone recognized himself/herself in the novel.


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

Ms. Guidoccio’s Answer: I’m inspired by women who launch spectacular second acts. I would love to write a fictionalized memoir about Georgia O’Keeffe, focusing on her early years and what inspired her art. Or a self-help book centered on her quotations, life lessons, and anecdotes.


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

Ms. Guidoccio’s Answer: In the last six months, I’ve read several memoirs about celebrities and their challenges. My favorites include Settle for More by Megyn Kelly, Between Breaths by Elizabeth Vargas, After All by Mary Tyler Moore, and The Road to Happiness by Linda Gray.

Teddy bears with Canadian flags & hearts
©Graphic Garden

Q10: What books have influenced your life the most?

Ms. Guidoccio’s Answer: In June of 2004, I discovered Louise Hay. I had just been diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer and desperately needed hope and inspiration. I found it in Louise’s book, You Can Heal Your Life.


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

Ms. Guidoccio’s Answer: I’d love to spend the day with Chef David Korba. Watch him cook, get a few tips about Greek cuisine, and then help myself to his signature dishes.


Q12: Do you read your reviews?

Ms. Guidoccio’s Answer: I read all my reviews at least once. On “blue” days, I reread the excellent reviews. While reading the less-than-stellar reviews, I look for common themes. For example, several readers commented on the number of characters introduced in the first chapter of A Season for Killing Blondes. I kept that comment in mind while writing Too Many Women in the Room, Book 2 and A Different Kind of Reunion, Book 3.

line of books - some stacked, some standing, some leaning - books are blue, brown, red, green, and yellow
©Graphic Garden

I want to say thank you again to Joanne Guidoccio for being willing to answer my questions. I also wanted to apologize again for getting this post up so late! If you wish to visit other stops in the tour, please click on the banner under the purchase links! It’ll take you to the tour’s main page and you can pick up the schedule from there.

Where to find Joanne…

Website: http://joanneguidoccio.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/joanneguidoccio
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorjoanneguidoccio
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/joanneguidoccio
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/jguidoccio/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7277706.Joanne_Guidoccio

Book Cover: Too Many Women in the Room by Joanne Guidoccio - "Eight women - eight motives to kill a lecherous photographer" - white background, silhouettes of 8 women with a knife dripping blood at the top.

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Purchase Links: AmazonB&N

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