Monday, May 28, 2012

Bloody Words 2012

This coming weekend is the 12th annual Bloody Words Mystery Convention.  It will be held at the Toronto Downtown Hilton.

I'm really looking forward to going (I missed it last year!)  It's a great chance to connect with readers and catch up with (or finally meet!) fellow mystery writers.

I'll be part of the following panel discussion on Friday night:  Gumshoes & Cops
Why do authors choose a PI or a cop as their protagonist? Is one better than the other? And how does current technology make these characters’ lives easier or harder?
Alison Bruce, Liz Bugg, Jill Edmondson, Garry Ryan, Jim Napier (moderator)

Then on Saturday, I'll be at the Sisters in Crime signing table from 11:30 to 12 noon.  Following that, I'll be taking part in "Author Speed Dating!" at 4:30 pm.

Check out the Bloody Words site for more event info:

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Interview with Metallic Dreams author Mark Rice

  If  my character Sasha Jackson were real, and if Mark's character Spark MacDubh were real, I'm quite certain Sasha and Spark would me deep in the throes of a hot n' heavy romance!

Here's a bit more about Mark and Spark...

1.       It’s obvious that two of your passions are music and books.  If you had to give up the ability to see or the ability to hear, which would you choose and why?

If I had to lose one, it’d be the ability to hear (but I’m in no way tempting fate).  It would be horrific to deal with the loss of sounds I love: music, wind, the sea, laughter.  My mother had a deaf colleague who went to heavy metal concerts.  When music was loud enough he could feel its vibrations and experience it in that way.  I’d use that tactic and also extend it to other locations such as car and house; I’ve a pair of 100W Celestion speakers which can kick out monumental volume and bass.  The neighbours might not like it, but the Metal Gods would.  As far as blindness goes, it’d have a more detrimental effect on independence.  I’d have to give up many of the pursuits I enjoy: climbing, mountain biking, driving, reading, archery and Muay Thai, to name a few.  Deafness would cause less of a complete lifestyle overhaul.  Strangely enough, when I started listening to LOUD music at 10, my mother would often burst into my room shouting, “Turn that down or you’ll be deaf before you’re 20!”  When I turned 20, she had to revise her warning to, “Turn that down or you’ll be deaf before you’re 30!”  By the time I was 30, I had my own home.  Regardless, when my Mum was visiting and the music was loud, she’d shout, “Turn that down or you’ll be deaf before you’re 40!”  Sometimes, to wind her up, I’d boom, “WHAT?  YOU’LL HAVE TO SHOUT LOUDER, MA!  I THINK ALL THIS HEAVY METAL HAS MADE ME DEAF!”  She fell into the trap every time, replying, “I told you!  I warned you that would happen!”  Then she’d see me laughing and say, “You’re not funny, ya eejit!”

2.       What can you tell me about your current work in progress?  Will readers be seeing another Spark MacDubh (mis)adventure?

I’ve a few projects in the pipeline.  Spark and his gang of lovable degenerates will be back for sure.  I hadn’t planned on making Metallic Dreams a series, as the first book ties up all the loose ends.  When the characters started doing things in my mind again, though, I had to either document their actions or be driven crazy by them.  I chose the former.  Additionally, I’m half way through a novel that has nothing to do with Metallic Dreams.  Set on the remote Scottish island of Lewis, it’s a mystery which fuses science, religion, mythology and Scandinavian black-metal excess.  I’m also working on a shortish story (around 20,000 words) which revolves around the witch trials in Scotland.  As research for the story, I immersed myself in the University of Edinburgh’s database of Scottish witch trials.  While there, I discovered that four ancestors on my mother’s side had been tried for witchcraft.  I wasn’t able to go back in time and right those wrongs, but in my story I have no such restraints.  The plot is veering into some very dark places.  I’ve just launched my short story Revelation Was Wrong on Kindle.  It’s the tale of a drunken Scottish prophet who has never predicted anything correctly...until he prophesies the Apocalypse and things begin to unfold exactly as described.  The Kindle edition of A Blended Bouquet - a Writers Inc anthology which I compiled, edited and contributed to - will be launched any day now.  I put together the text, then Deena Rae Harrison Schoenfeldt, my superheroine at eBookBuilders, turned it into an e-book with gorgeous aesthetics.

3.       Clearly Douglas Adams was an early favourite, an early influence.  What other writers have had an impact on you?  What writers do you wish to emulate?

There aren’t any writers whom I want to emulate.  The more I write, the stronger my own voice becomes.  For me, that’s the point of everything: being true to oneself and carving as original a path as possible.  The work of Douglas Adams stimulated an epiphany in me (that writing can be profound, preposterous, clever and creative all at once).  Many other authors have affected the way I view the craft.  Key among them are Salman Rushdie, Robert Burns, Norman MacCaig, James Robertson, Umberto Eco, Markus Zusak, Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, Ambrose Bierce, Irvine Welsh, James Herbert, Stephen King, Ben Elton, Christopher Brookmyre, Bill Drummond, Mark Manning (aka Zodiac Mindwarp) and my father, Peter Rice, who had no interest in getting published, yet was as eloquent a poet as ever walked the planet.

4.       Satan Satan Satan.  The poor old Devil is forever maligned and vilified in literature and the arts.  What was fun-interesting-challenging about writing Beelzebub? 

For some reason, I find the Devil an easy character to write.  Effortless, in fact.  That probably says more about me than it does about the Horned One.  The fun part was opening myself up and channelling His Infernal Majesty onto the page.  Finding original ways of expressing and portraying Auld Nick was interesting and challenging.  I had a blast turning old Devil-related myths on their heads and creating my own dark folklore.

5.       You say you began scribbling stories at age five – wow!  You must have a drawer full of stories, synopses, and who knows what else.  What old, unfinished, or abandoned writing project would you like to finish someday?

My mother has most of those early stories.  A few are up in my loft.  Those early works are all complete, as I stuck with each project until it was finished.  One horror story I wrote in secondary school, at age 14, had a rushed ending.  I’d like to get my hands on that and give it an upgrade.  My English teacher was so badly affected by it that she contacted my parents and said, “I think your son has a disturbed mind.  If you’re in agreement, perhaps we should bring in a professional.”  My Dad’s response was, “Don’t talk gibberish, woman!  We’ve always encouraged him to let his imagination run wild.  And he has been reading a lot of James Herbert recently.”

6.       Social media – it’s how we “met”, so I have to bring it up.  How effective do you find social media in terms of book sales or reviews?  How much time do you spend on it?  What else do you have to say about social media for authors?

Social media is invaluable to authors.  I’ve met some talented writers, yourself included, through those channels.  I’ve also met some voracious readers who went on to enjoy my writing, review it and share with me the reactions it stirred up in them.  Some of these readers also took the time to write reviews.  It’s impossible to quantify the relationship between reviews and sales, but a glowing review certainly shouldn’t do any harm.  When something I’ve written provokes emotional and/or cerebral responses in a reader, inspiring him/her to contact me through social media channels, it’d be criminal to ruin that reader’s elation by being aloof and pretentious.  Those traits aren’t in my nature anyway, but solitude is; social media has guided me away from self-imposed marathons of creative solitude, as I don’t want readers and fellow writers to feel as though I’m neglecting them.  That’s the best thing and the worst thing about social media: it forces writers to be more social, which, generally speaking, doesn’t come naturally to folk who gravitate towards writing.  The most serious writers I know are reclusive by nature.  Those who refuse to become involved with social media are shooting themselves in the foot by limiting the potential audience they can reach.  True, they have fewer distractions and can focus fully on writing, but they also have a diminished accessibility to readers.  And what use is a literary masterpiece without readers?  If a tree falls in a forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound?  Sometimes I spend too long on social media sites, logging on with the intention of saying hello, then getting involved in conversation and, before I know it, hours have flown past.  Perhaps the most successful strategy is to allocate specific times for writing and other times for being sociable.  When I announced on Twitter that Metallic Dreams was free on Kindle for one weekend, retweets went crazy, as did downloads.  The e-book hit #1 in two categories on Amazon UK and one category on Amazon US.  The knock-on effect was substantial, with the e-book staying at #1 on Amazon UK for over a week.  Twitter, facebook and goodreads had an impact on those figures.  You could say I’m a semi-reformed recluse.  I used to shut myself away for up to three weeks at a time, disappearing into an inner Universe which I spilled onto the page.  Now I don’t let a day pass without checking social media sites.  They have been good to me and I appreciate the platform they provide.

7.       If an aspiring author asked you for some advice, what is the one thing you would tell him or her?

Always be learning.  Never stop trying to master your craft.  Technically, that’s two things, but they’re very much intertwined.

8.       What is the most surprising thing about being a writer (and here I am referring specifically to since Metallic Dreams came out)?

The most surprising thing has been the openness and generosity of other authors, readers, musicians and people in the publishing industry.  This interview with you, Jill, is an example of that phenomenon.  Fellow writers RJ McDonnell, Maria Savva, Darcia Helle, Martin Treanor, Stuart Haddon, Jeff Dawson, Charity Parkerson, Mark Hegarty and the inimitable James Pettigrew voluntarily took time out of their busy schedules to read Metallic Dreams and write praise-filled reviews, as did metal blogger extraordinaire Jimmy McCarthy, Helle SØe Gade (a Danish woman who balanced out her glowing review by threatening to castrate me when, for fun, I mistranslated the Gaelic phrase oidhche mhath as ‘bitches in Denmark are easy’ {it actually means ‘goodnight to you’}) and other readers, many whose identities I don’t know.  I’m happy that the story resonated with them and I appreciate their reviews.  A sense of community exists among indie authors.  Charity Parkerson and Melissa Craig have me on their podcast regularly, even though the material I write is different to theirs.  We have a laugh on the show and everyone wins.  The energy I’ve received, and still receive, from Deena Rae Harrison Schoenfeldt would sound far-fetched if I described it in a work of fiction, yet it’s real.

9.       Which is easier/more fun to write: dialogue or description?

I have more fun with dialogue.  Mastering the phonetics of different accents adds authenticity to a story.  I enjoy playing around with regional dialogue, especially my own brand of Scottishness, and using it to infuse stories with warmth, passion and humour.

10    The last question is kind of a freebie: What is the one question you wish I had asked you, but didn’t?  Now go ahead and ask and answer that question.

Jill: When is the movie version of Metallic Dreams coming out?

Me: Do you hear that, Hollywood?  Jill Edmondson wants to see Metallic Dreams on the big screen.  Are you going to let her down?  No?  Well get your act together, fly me to the States and let’s make that movie.
Thank you for the interview, Jill.  Excellent questions.  Slàinte mhath to you and Sasha Jackson.

For more on Mark:

Metallic Dreams on AMAZON

Follow Mark on Twitter @Metallic_Dreams

Born in Glasgow, Scotland. Grew up in the new town of East Kilbride. Began scribbling stories at the age of five. At ten, discovered heavy metal and Douglas Adams. Never looked back. Rumours that he sold his soul to the Devil at a Scottish crossroads in exchange for literary flair may have been exaggerated. Then again, Robert Burns saw Satan in Scotland's Old Alloway Kirk...

Long-haired Scottish rock singer Spark MacDubh drops dead on a snow-covered street of his native Bronzehall, only to be jolted back to life by what he calls lightning from Heaven. Following Spark's resurrection, his sanity is stretched thin: during waking hours, he receives instructions from deities known as the Metal Gods; at night he is haunted by visions of a Devil who wields ultimate power over the music industry. Employing behaviour that swings between messianic and infernal, Spark gets his old band back together with a view to steering them towards greatness. The Devil, however, only grants success in exchange for souls. Unwilling to use his band's eternal souls as bargaining tools, MacDubh comes up with a preferable route to stardom: put the Devil out of commission for good. A simple idea but questionable in terms of practicality. For starters, it requires a trip to Hell, and only the right music can open the gateway to that dimension. Catch-22? More like Catch-666. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

MICRO FICTION! Interview with Randall R. Peterson

Today I get the chance to introduce readers to a new author and to a new writing style.  I "met" Randy via Twitter and I look forward to joining him for a pint someday (he says he's buying!).

Here we go...

1.    The genre “Micro Fiction” is rather new – you won’t see the term “Micro Fiction” in literary theory textbooks from 1926.  Tell me what “Micro Fiction” means to you.

My type of Micro Fiction uses a word not as just a part of a sentence, but as an idea, and I link the images together to form a story.  Allow time for an image to form before reading the next word., drunk, fall, lamp, break, Jill, mad, sorry, hug, kiss, bedroom, husband, gun, window, jump, dog, bite, run, naked, clothesline, steal, home, phone, Jill … 

I never take Micro Fiction too seriously, it’s more like a comic strip for writers, a new-born baby. Someday a writer with more skill than mine will turn it into something more.

2.    You have a number of short stories linked to your site.  If a reader could only read ONE of your stories, which would you suggest?

“SCARECROWS: The Making” is my most popular short story. It is the first part of 10 (including The Daughters of Melania) about a witch, Melania Descombey, who creates scarecrows. 

One group, the Mommet, become almost human, while another faction, The Hodmedod, turn into monsters. 

The stories are set in a small American town called Cloverdale during WW2, and are the basis for a novel I’m putting together to be published in December.

3.   Referring to the story you mentioned in #2 above, if it were to be made into a short film, who would you cast in the lead roles?

Sophia Loren as Melania Descombey because she is old enough to play the ancient Italian Gypsy Witch. Aussie actor Conan Stevens as the Hodmedod called the Chinaman because he’s large enough. Anne Hathaway’s sweet image would be great in the part of Melania’s granddaughter Margie. Paul Walker would fit the role of  Margie’s Mommet lover Brian because of his intense blue eyes.

4.       You have such a wide array of stories!  It may seem like a banal question, but where do you get your inspiration?

I’ve always had an extremely vivid imagination. My father once told me if I could learn to write, I could conquer the literary world. It’s a lot harder than I thought, but I still intend to find out.

5.    Have you dabbled in, or would you like to dabble in other genres or writing styles?  Poetry? Novels? Plays?  Whatever?

In the early 1970’s I wrote and produced a series of animated drug culture films on super 8 film. They were very amateurish and I used friends to dub in voice tracks and I ripped off some of the greatest rock songs of the time for the soundtrack. 

On some of the scenes if you turn the volume up very loud you can hear a party raging in the background, while we lip synched to the edited film in a spare bedroom. Some of these early cartoons “The Coming of Hob” “Spaced Out” & others are buried in the video section of my Facebook pages and are there for anyone to check out. So yes, I would love to write for film or plays.

6.     You are very active in social media (it’s how we met after all).  Obviously social media is a great way to reach readers.  Would writing be as satisfying to you if you didn’t have the social media mechanisms by which you’re able to reach so many readers?

Writing is its own reward, you don’t have to have a million readers to be a success, a handful of people who like to read your stories will do … but you do need that handful.

7.       Who are some of the authors who have influenced you, who you emulate?

People think I’m joking when I say that I’m the World’s Greatest Reader, but I’m serious. We have a library in our home with about 1500 hardcover books on shelves and boxes of others we don’t have room for. I’ve read them all.

If reading could be classified as an addiction I would be in treatment. I read everything from John Steinbeck to Louis L’amour, Robert McCammon to Sue Grafton and Shakespeare & Mad Magazine... sometimes on the same night...

I read an obituary about a 94 year old woman, Viola Rawls Erickson, someone I didn’t know while at work and it said “…she filled a lifelong dream by having a book published” something about her picture fascinated me. I found her work, an obscure  novel called “THE ONES WE LOVE” a used copy, for sale on Amazon. I bought it and found it to be one of the greatest books I have ever read. 

It was after reading this book that “magic” happened in my life. I became a prolific writer and two years later I’ve written over 100 short stories and 3 novels. I really do believe that there is magic in everything.

8.       What is hardest for you to come up with: dialogue, setting or plot?

I don’t really have trouble with any aspect of writing. I can write anywhere at any time. When I begin something new, I type as fast and as furious as I can and usually do 500 words in about 20 minutes. Most of my stories are written in 15 minute breaks while working in a factory. 

If I fell off a twenty story building and had my laptop I could have a short story finished by the time I hit the street … of course with a bad ending. 

I don’t really edit at all, other than to run a spelling check. I would rather be writing than going over something that’s already been cooked. I lose interest in my stories shortly after I’ve scribbled them out. My hordes of enemies will laugh and say I suck … I say to hell with them. I’m doing what I love.

9.       What was the BEST writing advice you ever got?  What was the WORST?

I think the worst advice I ever got was in the form of an outline as to how stories should be written. It came from a critique group. (I belong to two writers groups.) I don’t think you can write a good story by filling in the blanks … at least I can’t.  It comes out like generic cat food … dry & bland no matter how many flowery words you pour over it. The best advice came from someone’s blog that I found on twitter, she said “The only rule in fiction is imagination” I love that, I wish I could remember who said it.

10.   What has been your most satisfying OR strangest feedback from or interaction with a reader?

Shortly after I began posting short stories on my blog site, I received a horrible, vicious E-Mail from another writer. He said I had no talent what-so-ever, that I couldn’t spell, and that I didn’t know what a paragraph was. He cursed like a sailor stood-up in a cat house. He probably thought I’d give up. 

He didn’t realize I have rhino skin. I took his letter to my writers group and read it out-loud. I said that what hurt the most was - that IT WAS ALL TRUE! We all laughed so hard I thought we were going to pee our pants. I started tweeting about some of the things he said about my work on Twitter and I gained a lot of really great friends.

11.   What else would you like readers to know about you and your works?

I’ve always had the ability for focus on one thing at a time, and block the world out. I’m the world’s best example of here and now. There is no past and no future. I live for the moment. The only thing better than falling in love, is doing it again and again and again. My short story site is The stories are FREE and - no you can’t have a refund.

Hey folks, do indeed check out his blog - there are some great stories there!   You can also follow Randy on Twitter @ItsOnlyMeAndYou and be sure to keep an eye out for his novel publication in December!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Interview with author Gloria Ferris

I'm pleased today to introduce you to mystery and suspense writer Gloria Ferris.  Here are a couple of highlights:

CHEAT THE HANGMAN – published by Imajin Books in Aug/11. Paranormal Mystery, was shortlisted for the Unhanged Arthur in 2009 and is now shortlisted for the Bony Blithe Award. Protagonist is Lyris Pembrooke.

CORPSE FLOWER – won 2010 Unhanged Arthur, to be published by Dundurn Press in Spring/2013. It’s a mystery, humorous if you like, and the protagonist is Bliss Moonbeam Cornwall.

And now, let's see what Gloria has to say... 

If you were to write a profile for Bliss Moonbeam for one of those online dating websites, what would it say?

Okay, I’ll give it a try:

My name is Bliss Moonbeam Cornwall.  I’m 32 and five foot five in three inch heals. My hooker friend, Rae, from the trailer park where I live, likes to experiment on my hair so it’s now 7 or 8 shades of brown and blonde, and naturally curly. As you can see in my picture, I’m on the thin side and, if you guys are cruising for huge, silicon-filled boobs, keep walking. I am nothing if not natural.

I’m not seeking a lasting relationship right now – too many things on the go – but I wouldn’t mind a dinner out once in a while. The rat-bastard lawyer I used to be married to swindled me out of a fair settlement and I’m working any minimum wage job I can find to save the money to take him back to court. At least that was the plan. But, I keep running into marijuana everywhere I go in town, and another idea is beginning to surface. It involves a touch of blackmail here and there but, hey, no pain no gain, right guys?

Anyhow, if you’re in the Lockport area near Lake Huron, give me a call. I’m really cute and will eat pretty much anything. Oh, and no married, engaged, divorced, separated or mamas’ boys need respond. Or lawyers.  It’s fine if you’re gay but you’ll need to know where to take a girl for a fabulous meal. 

As a bonus, here's a profile for Lyris:

Lyris Pembrooke: Hi. My photo shows you I have mid-length dark hair and dark eyes, and my face won’t scare children or squirrels (snicker, little humour there). I’m five foot nine and 38 years old. I live in Blackshore, Ontario, where I just inherited a Georgian mansion from my uncle. The Will won’t allow me to sell the place for twenty-five years, so fortune hunters are out of luck. And the body I found in the tower room had been there for a long time – I plan to find out who’s responsible so there’s nothing for anyone else to worry about

 I’m divorced and looking for someone between the ages of 39 and 40. I will screen applicants to ensure they meet my other requirements which I won’t go into here. If you want to date me, you should know up front that I won’t have sex with you for months, or maybe even years. We’d have to see how we get on. A uniform will take you to the top of the list, but this excludes UPS drivers and Animal Control officers

 I believe in full disclosure to prevent misunderstanding, so if the paranormal frightens you, I’m not the woman you’re looking for. I have a spirit guide, Leander, who used to be Winston Churchill, or maybe John Lennon – he won’t tell me. My Aunt Clem is also psychic, renowned throughout the county for the accuracy of her predictions so, between her and Leander, I feel pretty safe in venturing into the world of online dating. One or both of them will warn me if you have criminal tendencies.

I think that’s all you need to know except that the Chief of Police has taken a shine to me. I haven’t decided yet if I’ll let him catch me, hence this profile on e-FindABabe. There’s nothing like a little competition to make a man try harder, and he already has the uniform.

There seems to be a surge these days in paranormal fiction and in genre cross-pollination.  Do you feel that you can reach both mystery and paranormal audiences?  Overall, what are your thoughts on the blurring and blending of genres?

Mystery has always been a popular genre, as has the paranormal. A lot of readers like both, so it seems fair to say they would love a cross between the two. I count myself among their number.

When I wrote the first draft of CHEAT THE HANGMAN, there was no paranormal element. But I realized there was something missing. How can a 70-year-old murder be solved when most of the suspects are dead as well? Even if the killer is unmasked by deduction, elimination, or a confession left in the family mausoleum (didn’t happen in CTH, by the way) the story can be dry and ordinary. So, I wrote in a reluctant psychic and a smart-ass spirit guide.

The story has its darker moments but I wanted the reader to feel, and believe, that all things are possible, that a child murdered during the Second World War can finally be buried with dignity. And that those responsible can yet be unmasked and find peace themselves.  Somehow, writing a paranormal component into CHEAT THE HANGMAN just seemed to be, well...right. It fit.

I think all cross-genre writing is wonderful. Fans of every genre can now read what they love and, at the same time, find a new interest. For mystery lovers, we offer them not only the usual suspense, thriller, cozies, and amateur sleuths, but paranormal-mystery, fantasy-mystery, romance-mystery, western-mystery, time travel-mystery. In short, everything and anything the human imagination can conceive, we write. And readers can read. It’s all good.

So, let me get this straight: You are working on book #2 in the Lyris Pembrooke series, and working on book #2 in the Bliss Moonbeam series.  How do you keep it all straight in your head?

Lyris and Bliss are both strong women who face adversity head on and get up each time they’re knocked down.  But the similarity ends there. Each inhabits a different world and is surrounded by a unique cast of supporting characters. Getting their worlds confused just doesn’t happen.
I know I should pick one story, and finish it. Then go back to the other and do the same. The trouble is, I know what both Lyris and Bliss are up to in their new adventures and I keep running from one to the other as story lines, scenes, phrases or words jump into my head. When I’m working with Lyris, Bliss calls me and, just as I have Bliss sorted out for the moment, Lyris needs me.  I wish they would remember they’re just characters and supposed to do what I tell them, when I tell them.

Give me the sales pitch for Corpse Flower in 25 words or less.


The bodies are piling up around Bliss. She infuriates the top cop and risks her future by interfering with his investigation and compromising a marijuana sting.

You have written short stories and novels.  What adjustments do you have to make it your approach to each of these very different types of writing?

I wrote both CHEAT THE HANGMAN and CORPSE FLOWER before I even attempted a short story. Both novels are written in first person from a female perspective and I wanted to challenge myself. Could I actually write in third person, male POV? And, how about the humour? My natural voice is irreverent and impertinent (and my first language is sarcasm).

So, I wrote LAST ROLL OF THE DICE, a story of an elderly WWII veteran living in Victoria, BC, who is being forced by time and ill health to leave his beloved home. It’s a mystery, of course, so there’s some nefarious goings-on. The story came second in the 2011 Bony Pete contest sponsored by the Bloody Words Conference. I believe it will appear in this year’s conference magazine.

Since then I’ve written several other short stories, third person, male POV sans humour. Validation that I can, if required, write seriously, but I hope nobody ever holds a gun to my head and makes me do it. It’s just too hard for me. One of these days, I’ll do some research on short story markets and send mine out there.

Name two authors (living or dead) who have inspired or influenced you.  Tell me why.

That’s hard.  But, if I have to pick two, these are among my favourites:

  •   Ellery Queen: I began reading these mysteries at age 8. My mother belonged to the Book of the Month Club and I always hoped for an Ellery Queen. They were my first exposure to the mystery genre and I’ve never looked back.
  •   Elizabeth Peters: Anything to do with ancient Egypt and mysteries fascinates me. I have two bookshelves filled with Peters’ books and I especially like the Amelia Peabody series. Something about that take-charge, umbrella-toting, Victorian matron and her hunkster archaeologist hubby, Emerson, just resonates with me. Could it be the humour?

What is the most surprising thing about being a writer/being published?

I continue to be blown away by the amount of work required in being a published author. Marketing, branding, social media, blogging, readings, etc. It never stops. I find I don’t take a day off anymore and, like most authors, I get up early and stay up late just so I have some time to write.

If you didn’t have a talent for writing, what creative outlet would you pursue instead?

I used to sew and do a lot of crafts which I sold at shows and fairs. Thinking about it now, about the time I stopped sewing, I started to write. Wish I’d done that sooner.

If I couldn’t write anymore for some reason, I’d take up surfing before going back to sewing. And water scares me and I can’t swim.

What writing advice can you offer to an aspiring author?

  • Join an organization. Whatever genre you write in, there’s an organization that will befriend and support you. You will receive priceless information, knowledge and skills, and your writing will be the better for it.
  • Enter every contest you can find. If you can win a contest, or even receive a nomination, your manuscript has a better chance of moving up from the slush pile to an editor’s desk.

What is the one question you wish I had asked you, but didn’t.  Now go ahead and ask and answer that question.

How about: At what point did you really believe you could be a published author and seriously start working towards that goal?

And the answer is – the first Bloody Words Conference I attended. I joined the Crime Writers of Canada in 2007 and registered for my first conference in 2008. I submitted the first five chapters of CHEAT THE HANGMAN for the manuscript critique by a published author and, when I found out the author was Mary Jane Maffini, I was thrilled and terrified. Here was an author who had published at least ten books. What would she think of my writing? 

Well, Mary Jane was so warm and encouraging that I left our short meeting in a glow of new resolve. I enjoyed the rest of the conference – crime writers are a lot of fun! – and went home to finish CTH. It was shortlisted for the 2009 Unhanged Arthur award and published last year by Imajin Books. It has recently been nominated for the Bony Blithe award – and one of the other nominees is Mary Jane! So, you could say that encouragement from Mary Jane plus hob-nobbing with writers who were published, yet human and approachable, made me believe I could do it too.

Check out Gloria's website:

Amazon link for CHEAT THE HANGMAN

Friday, May 4, 2012

I get to be a guest!!

Hey Folks,

Today I am very flattered to be the featured guest over at CONFESSIONS OF A MYSTERY NOVELIST .

Drop by and see what Margot Kinberg has to say about me and the Sasha Jackson Mystery series!  Her article  is a combination of profile and review, which I think is a pretty cool way of doing things.

Link HERE.

Big THANKS to Margot for inviting me to do this!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Interview with Melodie Campbell

Hi Folks,

Today I am happy to share an interview with wordsmith and funny gal Melodie Campbell, author of Rowena Through The Wall plus tons of other great stuff!  Here we go...

Jill:  Tell me about the first time you walked through a wall or into a wall.

Melodie:  It wasn’t a wall but a mailbox.  Took off my glasses trying to impress a guy at University.  I made an ‘impression’ all right.

But seriously, I did walk into a men’s washroom once.  I blame it on those little Greek symbols…I mean, I’m a friggin’ Commerce grad, not an Arts major!  Luckily, I recognized the swinging apparatus and beat the hell out of there.  Twenty years later, maybe I would have lingered…

Your poem “Cyanide” has received some weighty accolades.  Tell, me was “Cyanide” really just a poetic twist on participatory journalism?

Not exactly, but I can think of some reviewers... J  My poetry is pretty accessible, like my fiction.  Cyanide is in the “He Done Her Wrong” class:

You say my cooking’s ghastly
I’m useless on my back
I never read a paper
And besides, I’m getting fat.

You call this match unequal
On that, I must agree
For now you’re dead upon the floor
And I am finally free.

You have written all kinds of things: poems, short stories, comedy and a novel.  Which type of writing do you find easiest?  Hardest?  Most satisfying?

Easiest?  Comedy.  I was the class clown in school, always getting detention for being a smart ass.  Comedy is my vice, my lover, my protection.

Hardest?  A novel.  Definitely.  My stories want to end themselves sooner.  I probably wouldn’t have written one at all except for this rogue journalist I met at the Toronto Press Club.  “You’ve never written a novel before – why don’t you write a novel?” he slurred, hoisting a glass of single malt.  By the way, there is no truth to the rumour that I once did a somersault off the Press Club billiard table.

On your website you have a list of short stories under the heading “Earlier Fiction”.   I’m putting you on the spot now: Which one is your favourite and why?

A Moment in Time.  My first story to hit it big (1992 -sold it to three different magazines and newspapers.)  It is a pre-internet story about a man’s obsession for a woman he met on a BBS (the way people used to connect by computer in the stone age.) It has a shock ending.  I still get chills when I read it.

What is the ONE thing you want readers to know about your forthcoming book The Goddaughter.

It’s not exactly a roman a clef, BUT this is the book most like me and the kind of wacky comedy I live for.  My family is Sicilian.  Lots of comic material there.  And I worked in the Hammer (Hamilton) for years.  Love the place.  Perhaps that smog did something to my brain?

So while Rowena in Rowena Through the Wall is who I would like to look like and be like, Gina in The Goddaughter is who I am. And she ain’t so perfect J

You have completed the first book in a new series you are co-writing with Cynthia St. Pierre.  What are the challenges and benefits of co-writing?

Benefits are wonderful.  Writing is such a solitary job.  Having a co- writer means having someone to share each step along the way. We actually did the chapter by chapter thing.  I wrote a chapter then Cindy wrote the next.  We surprised each other by not knowing exactly what was going to happen next.  Then of course we went back to edit for continuity to ensure we had a solid novel.

Challenges – We’ve been lucky. Our writing styles are pretty similar, which is a blessing.  We like the characters introduced by each other.  I think our biggest challenge has been living 90 miles apart, such that we can’t get together every week!

Okay: Time Travel.  You knew I’d be asking about this.  If you could live in any PAST era/decade/whatever, when would it be? 

Let me twist that.   I would love to live in the future, in a time when women had full equality (we still don’t now).  There is a dark side to Rowena Through the Wall.  I was exploring the concept of what happens in a world where women are scarce.  Our newspapers report that in some parts of the world, there is a disturbing gender imbalance.  When females become scarce, would they be more valued and thus have more power?  My conclusion is not a positive one.  I meant the book to be funny and entertaining, but there is a dark side underneath.

Is ownership of a Gucci bag considered a good reason for “justifiable homicide”?

Nah.  But the owners might be certifiable.  Three thousand dollars for a handbag?  Are they nuts?  You don’t see me wasting my money on things like that.  I’m far too busy wasting it on fast cars.

Talk to me about the cover for Rowena through the Wall.  How was it chosen?  What does it mean to you?  What do you feel it says to readers?

Parts of the cover I love.  I love the dark blue – a traditional colour used in fantasy fiction.  I love the two worlds colliding with the lightning bolt in between….the new world on the left and the Norman castle on the right.  I’d probably change the couple featured in the foreground.  It makes this book appear to be a romance, and it isn’t a romance.  Romance readers are made uncomfortable by this book because Rowena doesn’t meet one man and stay with him.  In fact she is with 5 men throughout the course of the book, and it isn’t until the end that she can be with the one she loves.  This is not a romance novel.  It is more realistic of the fate of women in medieval times and the high fantasy fiction that reflects those times.

What is the worst mistake you have ever made as a writer?

Back in 1993, a producer from HBO saw my play ‘Burglar for Coffee,’ labelled it “completely nuts,” and offered me a spot writing pilots, which I turned down.  This has to go on record as the worst mistake ever made by a person not officially insane. I mean, who had ever heard of HBO?

Follow Melodie on Twitter @MelodieCampbell
Check out Melodie's website HERE.