What is your current release and (without spoilers) tell us about the new book or series.
My most recent book release is a Fantasy titled DRAGON KNIGHT: and the Heart’s Blood Curse. Although this novel is technically a fairy tale, I wrote the story with adults in mind. I included whimsical ideas such as famous dead singers who were kidnapped by the demon and brought to the magical realm as slaves. Their songs affect magical folk, turning them into vampires, zombies, ghosts, harpies, and giant spiders. Next the demon intends to kidnap a living musician, Jimmy Buffett, from the mundane world and use his music to destroy the barriers between the worlds.
Meanwhile Dragon has been turned into a knight by a bad-tempered witch. He doesn’t enjoy occupying a human body, so he must help a young sorceress defeat the evil demon, Sandoval. On the journey to find the sorceress, Dragon meets helpful humans and fairies and slowly changes his cantankerous personality. While living with her parents in the castle Robyn, the young sorceress, shirked her studies. Now on her own, she must master difficult spells before her sixteenth birthday. It doesn’t help that her book of magic refuses to display the new spells she needs to wield. Her aunt promised to send a knight to aid her in the upcoming battle with Sandoval, so Robyn tries to remember small spells she already knows how to use.
Robyn’s parents, powerful sorcerers in the magical realm, find themselves living in the mundane world. Learning to survive without magic is a daunting prospect, but they soon discover it’s important to save Jimmy Buffett from being kidnapped by Sandoval. If the demon succeeds in his plans, both worlds will be destroyed and the underworld reign supreme. Driving a magical Prius automobile, surfing the magic of the Internet, and using their wands as smartphones, the wizards attend Buffett concerts and discover how mundane magic might become lethal. Will Robyn defeat Sandoval in time? Global warming is already a small sample of the heat that might be unleashed by the demon.
Two bonus short stories are included in this new book.
TIGER, TIGER takes place in a distant future where Florida has been destroyed by ten years of horrific hurricanes. Only a few humans live in the wildlife sanctuary. Jungle animals once held captive in zoos now roam free in the wilds of Florida. After a series of killings in the human community, a park service ranger arrives to track a deadly tiger and investigates the mysterious deaths. Is the tiger really to blame or is a human villain involved?
TRACKING THE ENEMY is a story about Amber, a telepathic wolf, who was first introduced in THE ALPHAS mystery/sci-fi novel. The clever she-wolf must find a way to escape from an animal enclosure and track the man who keeps her mate captive in a nearby facility. The Enemy holds the power of life and death over the wolves, and the entire pack learns their lives are in jeopardy. Amber executes her plan with bravery and tenacity. Will it be enough?
What is the usual process for your writing? Are you a plotter or a pantser?
It depends on what genre I am tackling. When I write a mystery I become a plotter. I construct a timeline organized along ports that the cruise ship visits. I write back stories and descriptions of my characters and figure out motives for potential suspects. I also do detailed research or actually visit the places I write about. Then I start “dreaming” about what the characters are doing inside the timeline and begin writing the story.
When I write a sci-fi/fantasy, I am a “dreamer”. I think about a character, dream about them, and consider the problems they might face in a specific type of situation. I research, watch animal documentaries, or read about distant places, and adapt strange environments to the out-of-this-world place I imagine. When characters begin shouting at me during my dreams, it’s time to record their stories with my computer. Sometimes I can’t type fast enough to get the story down and I guess I become a “pantser” writing without a specific plan. When I finish the current train of thought, I find myself thinking, researching, and dreaming again. Along the way I do editing, cut/paste to make the character’s story fit into a general timeline.
Once you have an idea that sparks your imagination do you research your idea or do any world-building exercises, or do you just begin to write and see where the Muse takes you?
Research is essential. When my basic research about a subject or location is finished, I immerse my mind into a scene with the character involved. I see the character, hear sounds, smell scents, and feel their emotions. When I can visualize the scene completely, I sit down and write. It might not be the first scene of the book or even the first scene with the character, but it becomes a piece of the entire story. Eventually each character gets fleshed out and I drop them into the storyline. It’s my job to link the scenes and make them fit together. I must be flexible. Once I imagined a character in the middle of a book that was a fantastic villain. I decided to add him into the story at an earlier point to let the gritty character do his worst. I love computers!
Are you a full time writer? If so when did you make the decision and what factors led to the decision. If you are not a full time writer…Is your plan to one day being a full time writer?
I am a full time writer. I “retired” after selling my retail business in a resort community. That gave me sufficient time to work on writing. I’d been writing for years for myself but got serious about selling at this point. I decided to pay an editor to help make my first mystery novel saleable. After the long editing process, I signed up with an agent and found a publisher.
Not so fast. The publisher went bankrupt before the book was released and returned the rights to me. I got so frustrated and discouraged that I QUIT for five years. One day my husband read an article in an RV magazine about an Indie author who published on Amazon. He gave me the article and put the idea into my brain. I revised my mystery, MURDER CARIBBEAN-STYLE, once again and published the final version on Amazon and Createspace. The book describes exotic locations in the Caribbean as Kayla and Steven investigate the death of her slimy ex-boyfriend. A new romance begins with Steven as the mystery reaches a dramatic conclusion. Two books about the same characters have been published.
What is your daily writing time like?
I work on marketing every morning, and then I spend time researching or writing the next idea I’ve been dreaming about. It’s a continual process and I don’t give myself a hard deadline. Since I write both mystery and science-fantasy, I find myself reading both types of genres to get my mind into the right atmosphere before I write. To me writing is a compulsion so it never stops.
Can you tell us about your publishing experience? Are you Indie, Traditional, or do a bit of both?
I’ve experienced traditional publishing. My daughter and I wrote a guidebook to the Caribbean and that was successful. The problem I faced was continual updates were needed and the writing was not very much fun. After the frustrations in my early career, I’m quite happy being an Indie author. As an Indie I get to control my books and earn a monthly royalty that I don’t have to split with a publisher. I have a background in art, and I’m computer savvy, so I design my own book covers and format on my own manuscripts. I don’t have to wait for a publisher to mail me a bi-annual check. Of course constant advertising gets to be a drag but that happens in the traditional market as well.
Everyone like to know where an author gets their ideas from, but what I want to know is what is the strangest thing to inspire one of your stories?
I watched a nature program about a native hunter in the Amazon catching a dangerous poison dart frog. He was extremely careful about touching the frog as he wiped darts across the toxin on the skin and hunted his prey. I decided that frog toxin would make an inventive murder weapon. After researching the various types of frogs, I learned which ones were most poisonous and used frog toxin as a murder weapon in MURDER CARIBBEAN-STYLE. That’s not a spoiler. Readers find out about the frog and its toxin in the first chapter.
Can you tell us about some of your other writing (fiction or nonfiction) and any appearances or signings that you have planned?
After publishing my first mystery, I revised the next book in the mystery series and launched MURDER ON A GHOST SHIP. The story includes characters introduced in the first book. Kayla and Natalia agree to help the cruise ship owner, Emily, when she discovers the ship she bought at a bargain is haunted by a lady ghost. They must find out who the ghost might be and try to get her to cross over. The ship sails to Bermuda and the Azores while our favorite characters handle a crazed ghost and investigate a dangerous smuggling ring.
The third book in the High Seas Mystery series is MURDER FOR GLACIER BLUE. It takes place on a cruise ship sailing the inside passage of Alaska. Kayla and Steven must guard six million-dollar paintings while they entertain guests who will attend their wedding on Glacier Bay. Of course, murder, an art theft, and Steven’s ex-wife threaten to interrupt their nuptials. Readers enjoy beautiful Alaskan scenery along the way and “see” wild animals during the story. (I even include photos taken on my own Alaskan cruise.)
HOWL OF THE WOLF, THE HAVENSHIRE RESISTANCE and DRAGON DEFENSE are three novels in an epic science-fantasy trilogy. Readers meet telepathic wolves, dragons, and space travelers who are trying to hide on the distant planet, Drako. The spacers escaped from an evil galactic empire with an assassin hot on their trail and must integrate into a feudal society that forbids the use of technology. The adventure involves cloning, mind transfer, telepathy, and special abilities of the main characters. Experience romance, sword fights, and a tournament for the crown. Have you ever stared into your dog’s eyes and thought he was trying to tell you something? Would you enjoy learning to fly on the back of a dragon? This series fulfills those fantasies.
THE ALPHAS (a prequel to the above series) begins as a mystery set on Earth and evolves into a science-fiction tale that reveals the history of intelligent telepathic wolves. Readers asked to know more about how the wolves got to Drako. Now they can read the back story and find out why the wolves escaped from Earth with help from human scientists.
As an author what inspiration or advice would you give to a writer who is working to make the transition to Author?
READ a lot! Analyze how your favorite authors capture your attention and apply what you discover to your own style. You can’t just copy a writer but you can learn their tricks. SHOW don’t tell. Notice how the author shows the action. Break things up to create interest. Intersperse dialog with direct action or colorful description to keep readers interested.
Study grammar! It’s an important tool, one that is necessary for every writer to succeed. Hire an editor after completing a full manuscript and learn from their suggestions.
Who is your favorite author? Tell us what makes this author stand out in your mind, and what book would you recommend to someone new to that author?
My favorite science-fantasy writer was Anne McCaffrey. She wrote the DRAGON RIDERS OF PERN series and created a new world to explore. Her novels were futuristic fiction but they were not “space cowboys” or technical hard science-fiction. She blended sci-fi and fantasy with style and imagination. Pern was planet where human society regressed. Intelligent dragons interacted with humans to protect the planet from a mindless scourge that arrived periodically. The author dropped hints about the planet’s history, how the society devolved from technologic space travelers to subsistence farmers. Later books followed the people as they rediscovered inventions and finally unearthed their original technology—very exciting.
When it comes to mystery novels, I read Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle. Their distinctive styles and clever plots never fail to intrigue as I reread them again and again.