BLOG TOUR – A Cajun Christmas Killing – GUEST POST

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Hello! Today I’m happy to be bringing you a stop on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for the novel A Cajun Christmas Killing by Ellen Byron. Ms. Byron sent me a guest post to share with you. Links to the book on Goodreads and purchase links can be found at the end of the post.

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Ellen Byron’s Guest Post

I’m not just a mystery author, I’m a mystery reader. In a big way. I read pretty much all of Agatha Christie’s novels by the time I was fourteen. My favorite current authors are Louise Penny, Jacqueline Winspear, Rhys Bowen, and G.M. Maliet, to name just a few. I try to read one book by every mystery author I befriend, so my TBR is through the roof! Well, through the virtual roof since I’m trying to adapt to a Kindle to save space and money. But my all-time favorite book is a classic – Wuthering Heights. I spent a good number of years with a literary crush on Heathcliff. Until recently, that is…

 Here’s how I came upon the book. When I was a moody, disaffected teen who could have used a heavy dose of anti-depressants, my family vacationed in Vermont. We eventually happened upon The Haunted Mansion Bookshop. Housed in a spooky Victorian home across from a cemetery, the used bookstore was run by a man with only one arm. As I wandered through the dusty, packed aisles, the one-armed man approached me and used his remaining arm to hand me a book. “I think you’ll like this,” he said. The book was Emily Bronte’s classic tale of passion, Wuthering Heights, and boy, was he right. Emily Bronte’s gothic romance blew me away. I fell madly in love with Heathcliff, the passionate, brooding breakout star of the novel. Could there be a hotter literary hottie? Not to fourteen-year-old me.

But my attitude toward Heathcliff recently changed. I re-read Wuthering Heights because I wanted to use my personal obsession with the book as back story for a character. And the way-older-than fourteen-year-old-me had a completely different reaction to the original anti-hero. Heathcliff is a horrible human being! He’s physically and emotionally abusive, callous, cruel, and basically a stalker. I realized he made a terrible role model for sexy male love interests in my books. It was sending the wrong message to my characters and readers. So Bo Durand, the eye candy in my debut novel, Plantation Shudders: A Cajun Country Mystery, may look a little like Heathcliff with his jet-black hair and deep brown eyes, but he’s sensitive and kind. Women attracted to him had better be prepared to take a back seat to Bo’s autistic son, Xander, the light of the divorced detective’s life.

Still, Emily Bronte’s passionate prose never ceases to move me. And when you’re together as long as Heathcliff and I were, you can’t just go cold turkey on each other. He’ll still color my characters.  My men will always be a little mysterious. Occasionally, one or two may brood. I could never do a total 180 on the relationship because then the men in my books could become something that Heathcliff never was: boring.

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WRITING FOR TELEVISION VERSUS WRITING MYSTERIES

I’ve been a television writer for (puts hand over mouth to hide how long) years. Mostly I’ve written for sitcoms like WINGS and JUST SHOOT ME. I recently finished a lengthy gig writing the animated Nickelodeon series, FAIRLY ODD PARENTS and BUNSEN IS A BEAST. I’ve written pilots for all the major networks and some cable ones as well. People often ask me what the difference is between writing for television and writing mysteries The answer? Everything.

First of all, I have a partner for writing television – we’re a female writer/producer team and that’s how we’re marketed by our reps. My CAJUN COUNTRY MYSTERY series is totally my own thing. But if I sold it to a network or studio, my writing partner and I would pen the script adaption of it together.

Writing for television is a social occupation. Writing novels is solitary. Although I’ve done dramas, my career has mainly been in comedy, so I’ll focus on that. As a sitcom writer-producer, I’m part of a staff that can be anywhere from a half-dozen to a dozen or more writers offering various levels experience. I’ve worked on staffs that have fifteen writers. We work as a room to break stories. With most shows, once a story is broken, it’s assigned to someone on staff who goes off and writes a first draft. If there’s time in the production schedule, the writer will get notes and do a second draft. The entire staff then punches up the script, adding jokes, fixing story problems, etc.

When you’re in production, you’ll have three trains running – a story train, a production train, and a rewrite train. Multi-camera shows like BIG BANG THEORY are almost like plays. You go to run-throughs, and then come back to the writers room to rewrite based on what worked and what didn’t. There’s a studio run-through and a network run-through, and you have to address the notes given by the various executives. Then you shoot the show before a live audience. Sidebar: (BIG BANG THEORY follows a model where scripts are group-written in the room by the staff.)

My mysteries are totally my babies until they go to the publisher. It’s just my computer and me until I have a draft I want to share with beta reader friends. Once that’s polished, I send it to the publisher, who responds with developmental and copy-edit notes. I get to revise and polish up until the book goes to print – and now with e-books, I’ve even made changes a year after publication!

I love having the combination of both writing experiences in my life. It provides a wonderful balance, and exercises different parts of my brain. Have I mentioned I also write plays and am a freelance journalist? But we’ll save that for another post…

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Thank you for joining me today for a stop on the Great Escape Virtual Book Tour for A Cajun Christmas Killing by Ellen Byron! Below are the purchase links, a link to Goodreads, the Rafflecopter Giveaway, and the Author’s Links. If you wish to visit other stops on the tour, click on the banner at the very end and that will take you to the main tour page which will provide you with a list of tour participants.

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Purchase Links: AmazonB&NKobo

Rafflecopter Giveaway

Author’s Links

 

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AWARD – Awesome Blogger Award

I’ve been nominated for another award! Woo hoo! 🙂 This time it’s the Awesome Blogger Award. Thank you to Roda from Growing Self for nominating me. If you haven’t checked out Roda’s blog yet, you really need to. She’s got great life advice and lots of fun stories about her farm. 🙂

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What Is the “Awesome Blogger Award”? 

This award was created by Miss Maggie over at dreaming of Guatemala! And she says :

“This is an award for the absolutely wonderful writers all across the blogging world. They have beautiful blogs, are kind and lovely, and always find a way to add happiness and laughter to the lives of their readers. That is what truly defines an awesome blogger.”

The Rules

• Thank the person who nominated you. Include the reason behind the award. Include the banner in your post.

• Tag it under #awesomebloggeraward in the Reader.

• Answer the questions your nominator gave you.

• Nominate at least 5 awesome bloggers.

• Give your nominees 10 new questions to answer.

• Let your nominees know that they’ve been nominated!

 

Roda’s Questions: Let’s try something fun with the questions!!

1. One thing you love? Since Roda specified a “thing”, I’m going with my Kindle Fire. I love having so many books at my fingertips.

2. Two favorite colors? Purple (just in case you couldn’t tell 😉 ) and Midnight Blue.

3. Three words you love to use? “I love you.” To friends, family, etc. Not generally to strangers. 😉 

4. Four places you have traveled? Finland; Buffalo, NY; Colorado (Denver/Boulder area); and Washington D.C.

5. Five favorite foods? Pizza, popcorn, quinoa, ice cream, black beans – I could be perfectly happy living on those 5 things along with a few condiments, different pizza toppings, and water.

6. Six musicians or bands you love? The Piano Guys; Trans-Siberian Orchestra; Peter, Paul & Mary; Moody Blues; Yo-Yo Ma; and Metallica.

7. Seven survival items you would take while visiting out-of-town relatives over the holidays? Hmmm.. this one’s hard as most of my relatives live near me. For a general road trip/vacation, let’s see… 

  • Warm clothes (I hate being too cold, especially at night)
  • My phone/charger
  • My tablet/charger
  • My camera/charger
  • Headphones/Earbuds
  • My own pillows & stuffed animals (yes, I still have a couple stuffed animals I sleep with. One of my mental illnesses causes me to need them.)
  • Books! Lots and lots of books – both physical and on my Kindle.

8. 4+4=8. Four favorite vegetables? Four favorite fruits? Veggies: Broccoli, Green beans, Red peppers, and Cucumbers.  Fruits: Apples, Grapes, Cloudberries (unfortunately, only available as jam in the U.S. but I love the berries themselves), and Cantaloupe. 

9. Nine words that describe you? Kind, Intelligent, Compassionate, Thoughtful, Generous, Creative, Fat, and according to my best friend, Brave and Beautiful (neither of which do I feel like I am but she does). And just so you all know, I don’t mind the word fat. I despise the word obese, but I don’t mind fat. I am fat. It’s just the truth. 

10. 10-9=1. One thing you love most about YouMy eyes – they’re a pretty blue. 

 

My Nominees

I realize that not every one chooses to participate in award nominations. If you choose not to, that’s fine (but I hope you will). Just keep blogging. 🙂

  1. Books & Biscuits
  2. Mischenko from Read, Rant, Rock & Roll
  3. Susan Loves Books
  4. Marie at Drizzle & Hurricane Books
  5. May from Forever and Everly
  6. Marcia Strykowski
  7. Dee’s Rad Reads and Reviews

 

My Questions for my Nominees:

1) What is your favorite genre(s) to read (pick up to 3)?

2) What are the top 3 books you’ve read in the last year?

3) If you could spend one day with anyone – fiction/nonfiction, dead/alive – who would it be and why? (This does not have to be someone famous – just whomever you want to spend a day with.)

4) If you could travel to *one* place in the world and spend a week there (all expenses paid) – where would you go and why?

5) What song(s) has/have meant the most to you over the last 3 years (pick up to 3)?

6) Cookies, cake, or cupcakes? Why?

7) If you could travel to a fantasy world that is *NOT* Harry Potter’s world and *NOT* Middle Earth, which one would you choose and why?

8) What sound or noise do you love to hear?

9) What sound or noise do you hate to hear?

10) Tell us something unique about yourself that people may not know about you.

 

Thank you again to Roda from Growing Self for my nomination!

Remembering…

16 years ago today, the United States experienced the worst act of terrorism on our soil (not necessarily the worst ever in the world, but the worst on our soil). Over 3000 people lost their lives on September 11, 2001. It’s a day that as Americans, we will never forget.

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I certainly will never forget it. I was working as an administrative assistant at a substance abuse treatment center. We were all (clients, staff, everyone) in a seminar about HIV/AIDS. Shortly after the seminar got started, my boss’s mother paged her. She excused herself to go call her mom and when she came back she handed me a note that said “a plane just flew into the World Trade Center”. I looked at her and whispered “Really?!” and she nodded. I don’t think I could tell you a single thing that was discussed in the seminar that day.

We concluded the seminar and turned on the television we had in one of the treatment rooms.  We were just in time to see the first building fall. God, my heart just stopped in my chest. And then seeing the destruction of the Pentagon and knowing that it was only the bravery of the men and women on Flight 93 that saved the U.S. Capitol from a similar fate.

While many places I knew closed for the rest of the day, we remained open because we wanted to give our clients plenty of time to talk about their feelings about what was going on. We didn’t want them to relapse over this horrible tragedy (we ended up having one relapse, but the majority of our guys held firm in their recovery).

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Even now, 16 years later, it’s still hard to grasp the enormity of lives lost that day. The number of heroes that gave their lives so others might live, both those in uniform and civilians. It’s one of those times that bonds us together as humans. Everyone I know can tell you exactly where they were when the planes hit the towers and the Pentagon, and when the towers fell.

There are memorials for all three sites of destruction, tho’ I haven’t been to them yet. Someday I will be able to visit them. Until then, I will continue to remember what happened 16 years ago.

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What’s New

I haven’t posted in a few days so I thought I should take a minute to share what’s up on this end.  I apologize for the lack of graphics. My allergies are bugging me and the decongestant is making it difficult to even type, much less attempt to look for graphics.

My new job is going well. I’m enjoying it and am thankful every day that I no longer have to work with the public! Some days are busier than others. Some days I don’t have that much to do and some days I’m swamped, but that’s the nature of being at the mercy of when items are delivered. I’m learning to pace myself on the swamped days and appreciate the slower days.

I’m still working on my room, but I’m getting closer to being done. I’ve set the end of September as my goal for being done. I took a 5-day weekend around the 30th/1st and plan to use those days to shift furniture and do the final touches. I’ve done well sifting through books I own and getting rid of some that I’m just never going to use/read again. Ditto with some of my art supplies. There are some resale shops around here that will take art supplies so I’ve been getting some together to donate. Those are the two things that take up the most space in my room so working on paring those down to manageable levels feels really great. I’m not done, by any means, but I’ve got a huge chunk done.

This past weekend was a long weekend here in the United States as we celebrated Labor Day. I worked in my room part of the time, but on Saturday, I took my dad to the Thunder Over Michigan air show with the Blue Angels as his belated Father’s Day present. I’ve been taking him for a few years now. We had a great time and hopefully later in the week or this weekend, I’ll have my pictures ready to put up. Some need a little help with shading and color since the cloud cover came in and made everything in the picture go grey.

A few weeks ago, my doctor put me on steroids to deal with an allergic reaction. That will be the last time I ever voluntarily take steroids. It basically made my psych meds inactive so even tho’ I was taking them, I felt like I hadn’t had psych meds in days. NOT a good place for me. It’s taken me almost two weeks to feel better again after stopping the steroids. That was definitely a lesson learned.

What’s going on with all of you? If you’re in the US, did you do anything special for the holiday weekend? If you’re not in the US, did you do anything fun on your weekend?

 

Souvenirs from Around the World – #SFATW

Marie over at Drizzle & Hurricane Books came up with a delightful little thing to participate in called Souvenirs from Around the WorldYou can sign up and indicate what level you want to participate at. I chose to participate at the highest level. Marie then matched me up with a wonderful blogger here in the US and we’re exchanging gifts.

Deborah Kehoe of The Reading Chick was my partner this time around (which was my first time participating). If you haven’t checked out her blog yet, I recommend it! She’s interested in reading some different genres than I am, so I find it really interesting to read her reviews and other posts.

I received Deborah’s package earlier last week, but I waited until Sunday to open it because I wanted to be able to take my time, look at everything individually and take photos of everything to put up here on my blog. I had thought about filming myself opening it but luckily, I remembered in time that my level of membership on WordPress does not include posting videos!

The whole package was just awesome and I’m loving everything! There was great swag, some books, and even a food that’s more regional to her area than mine to try (which I actually haven’t tried yet but they look scrumptious!).

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It’s a box!! Yay! For whatever reason, I decided to document the box just before I opened it. hehe.


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These little patches are the first two things I found under the padding. They’re so cute!!!! They’re going to look adorable on one of the messenger bags that I use for work. I love that the “Get Lit” one has some purple on it (which is my favorite color) and the kitty is just too cute! I tend to gravitate towards grey kitties when I see them on things so this is perfect!


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Next came the post card which Deborah wrote her note to me on. I love the quote from Stephen King. The “Certified Book Addict” sticker is pretty great too! I love the colors! I haven’t decided where I’m going to put it though. I think I’m going to bring the postcard into work and hang it on my bulletin board in my cubicle.


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This way cool button came next. I love it! I haven’t quite decided where I want it yet. I might put it on one of my book bags or maybe on my lanyard for work or who knows?! It’s just cool and a great little quote.


 

After the button, sticker, and postcard, I found this absolutely BEAUTIFUL ‘Alice in Wonderland’ scarf. I happen to be a fan of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ (the book and several of the movie adaptations) so it’s perfect for me! I can’t wait to wear it to work one day this week. I think I’ve picked the outfit to go with it. I’ll take a picture of me with it on and post it when I wear it.


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Under the scarf I found three books that I haven’t read yet and they all look very interesting! These two are from a series that I hadn’t even heard of before but after reading the book jackets, I’m excited to be able to start them soon (probably not for a couple weeks given my blog tour/reviews schedule but soon).


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This is the third book that was in the box. I’ve read one book in this series and enjoyed it, but I haven’t read this one yet, so I’m looking forward to it as well!


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Finally, the last thing under the scarf was a box of whisky praline pecans. I haven’t tried them quite yet because I’d already had some sweets yesterday (Sunday) and I’m trying to cut down on how many sweets I eat per day, but I’m looking forward to eating a couple when I get home from work tonight!

 

A huge “THANK YOU” to Deborah for all the awesome, amazing gifts that were in my package. 🙂 🙂 I love them all!