Thursday, July 28, 2011

Mystery We Write Blog Tour with Beth Anderson


Book blurb for RAVEN TALKS BACK by Beth Anderson:
Raven Morressey is living the good life. Nice home, husband, three healthy children, and it's finally summertime, when life is again lovely in Valdez, Alaska. All this explodes one morning when builders, digging up her back yard, uncover a recently murdered headless, handless female body covered with scarification—hundreds of colored designs cut into the skin to resemble tattoos. As if this isn’t enough, where the corpse’s head should have been is a large rock with a face painted on that resembles an Alaska Native mask.
Raven's eight year old son, Timmy, is the first one to see the body and is suddenly unable to walk or respond in any way. On that same day, Raven hears the voice of her long dead Athabascan father coming from Timmy, who is unaware of the ancient hunting chants he sings in his sleep and the words he suddenly speaks in Raven’s native tongue—a language he does not know.
Jack O’Banion, Valdez’s Chief of Police for the past few years, faced with his first murder case in Valdez, begins his official investigation. Everywhere he goes he finds nothing but deception. The town seems to have closed into itself and nobody will tell him anything that might help him solve this case. Then one murder quickly morphs into two, then three, and the Alaska State Troopers are hot on his back to find the killer now.
Between Raven’s voices and the visions she develops, and Jack, whose career as well as his contented life in Valdez are on the line, they both feel they have to find the killer and restore some sanity to the town—not to mention their own lives, which are quickly unraveling out of control

Beth Anderson Looking Suspiciously Benign
Would you tell us a little about your latest mystery and how it came about?
My most recent mystery novel is just now making its appearance, first in ebook and by the time you read this, should be out in print at both links above.  RAVEN TALKS BACK takes place in Valdez, Alaska, a small fishing village at the very end of the Alaska Pipeline where the ships come in to collect the oil. It originally came about on the first full day I spent there, watching the fog roll down the mountainsides. I heard, inside my head, a voice speaking that would become Raven, my Alaska native heroine, who is married to a Caucasian man, Red. The first few words became my first two sentences in my one page intro, right before the first murder is discovered: "The spirits of my ancestors live in the towering Chugach Mountains that surround my world. I know they are there."
I wasn't even thinking of a plot right then, but I started watching everything I could see in this beautiful small town. The mountains. How they looked in early summer. The glaciers, always there no matter what season it is. The fishing boats down by the wharf. The people I saw around the town. Then I started talking to an Alaska Native woman who told me some about their culture. I was completely fascinated by everything and everyone I saw, and curious about all of it. But still no plot, just a feeling that one day I'd write a book about it because I loved it all so much. And naturally, being me, it would have to be a murder mystery even though there had been mostly only things like bar fights, marital problems, in Valdez. There had been no bigtime murders that took a while to solve. So again, being me, I dreamed some up and started writing.
Have you always wanted to be a writer? If so, have you written anything else?
Yes. My family has writers going back several generations that I know of. I always, as a child, had the feeling that someday I would write a book. My childhood friends have told me that I was always talking about it, although I don't remember this myself, and I had said I'd put them in a book someday. I wrote a Junior High newspaper gossip column (wouldn't you know it) and also had a short but somewhat lucrative career writing love stories for my girlfriends until the school principal squashed that idea. Later, after I married and had a couple of kids, I wrote a story for a magazine which made it to the top three, and the desire to write grew. But not enough yet for me to really pursue it. I was too busy pursuing four children and driving them around here and there to do much about writing a novel, which I really wanted to do...but not ENOUGH yet, or I would have already been doing it.
Eventually, after they were grown, I started learning how to write a novel all by myself since I didn't have sense enough to go to a library and see if they had any know-how books. So, after winging it for a long time, I sold my first novel called Count On Me to Harlequin Superromance. Lo and behold, it contained a mystery even though it was a romance novel. My second book to come out, after I had an agent, was All That Glitters, at Ballantine/Ivy. A murder mystery taking place in Hollywood. Third book out was Diamonds, taking place in Las Vegas, at Dorchester/Leisure. Another mystery, can you believe it, this time including Mafia connections. By this time I was getting the picture. I was never going to be a good romance writer because I laughed at the love scenes.  Evidently I was bent on fulfilling my destiny as a crime writer. After that came three more books at Amber Quill:  Murder Online, Night Sounds, and Second Generation. These were more fun because I had way more control over going after reviews, etc. and I got a lot of them, almost all five stars (none were from relatives). I also won quite a few awards with those books. They were also...wait for it...all mysteries.
Then my life took another sidetrack. My husband became seriously ill and stayed ill for a long time until he died just three years ago. Which brings us up to my current book, RAVEN TALKS BACK, a mainstream mystery that includes, along with all the thriller/mystery stuff, some supernatural stuff too, which I had never thought of doing before. This time though, the location itself provided the push for the supernatural.  If you ever visit Valdez, Alaska in the summertime, you'll see why I was so drawn to it. It's a very mysterious, spiritual place, especially when it's foggy. The whole atmosphere and ambiance there speaks of the supernatural, spirits talking. At least it did to me, and definitely not because I went looking for it. It was just there, and I felt it.
Do you find yourself talking to your characters when you’re doing ordinary tasks such as putting on makeup, washing dishes, driving your car? 
I find myself talking to them, yes, and they talk back to me. Or they talk to each other, and I just listen and often laugh, because they're funny a lot of the time. That's one of the things about my books. They're all mysteries or thrillers, but they also all contain laughter. Funny things happen to people that they weren't expecting and that's where the real joy comes in for me. I love it when they're being funny. Those are the easiest scenes to write.
If you could travel anywhere in the world to research a book, and if someone else pays expenses, where would you pick?
I'd go back to Valdez in a heartbeat, and I also feel almost as strongly about Anchorage, Alaska, a gorgeous, cosmopolitan city where the streets and parks are kept clean and most of their houses just give up the feeling of having sprung by themselves out of the surrounding area. Just beautiful. It's no colder there in the winter than it is in Chicago. I could be happy there.
Do you have a pet? If so, tell us about this special relationship.
I have a dog, half St. Bernard and half Boxer, named Denali. I call him DenaliDawg on Facebook. I'm putting him in the next book (which I'll be starting soon) of the Raven Morressey series. He's a wonderful, full of personality dog, and if his legs weren't getting so bad I'm sure he'd be good at tap-dancing. I also have two cats, both with different personalities. BooBoo is just the softest, sweetest little guy in the me. Everybody else has to look out, because although he likes to watch people, he's not too hot on getting close to them. And Sarge, my little girl cat, so named because she has stripes on her arms. What a little lover SHE me, LOL!  She has been known to be quite obnoxious to others, although I'm convinced it's all their own fault. Spoiled my cats are, yes. I love all of my animals very, very much.
Thanks a million for sharing your work and history with us today, Beth. You’re a fascinating woman, and your book is going on my soon-to-be-read list.
Jackie, thank you so much for letting me visit your blog today. It was a pleasure!  I hope it is for your readers, too, Beth Anderson 
It was indeed a great pleasure! Below is Beth’s bio and some websites where everyone can learn more about this fascinating woman and her books.
Author Bio
Beth Anderson is a multi-published, award winning author in several genres including romance and  mainstream crime fiction. A full time author, she lives in a Chicago, Illinois suburb. She has appeared on Chicago's WGN Morning Show, The ABC Evening News, as well as numerous other radio and cable television shows. She has guest lectured at Purdue University and many libraries and writers' conferences. She loves music, particularly jazz. Her website and blog are both at
Links to my author pages on Amazon and Barnes & Noble:
Website and blog:  http//
Publisher's Website: Krill Press
RAVEN TALKS BACK ISBN #: 9780982144398

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Mystery We Write Blog Tour With Anne K. Albert

Special Interview with Anne K. Albert—Mystery and Suspense Author

Welcome Anne, to Cozy Mysteries and Other Madness. Thanks for dropping by to tell us about your latest book and to share your secrets.

It’s said that Anne’s books chill the spine, warm the heart, and soothe the soul…all with a delightful touch of humor. That kind of a read sounds wonderful to me. So Anne, could we start with you telling us a little about your latest novel, FRANK, INCENSE AND MURIEL?

Frank, Incense and Muriel is the first book of my Muriel Reeves Mysteries. This story takes place the week before Christmas when the stress of the holiday season is enough to frazzle anyone's nerves. To find a missing woman, Frank and Muriel must deal with an embezzler, femme fatale, kidnapper, and of course, Muriel's eccentric, (but loveable) family.

This story received a 5-star review and Reviewer Top Pick award from Night Owl Reviews.

Your mystery sounds really exciting, is your private life as thrilling as your books? What do you do when you’re not writing?

I love to travel. I could literally be on the road 365 days of the year and never feel homesick.

And I’ll bet that every mile you traveled, another story idea popped into your head. What challenges did a prolific writer such as you face in getting published?

Like so many other authors, I completed and submitted five different manuscripts and I received countless rejections from agents and editors on all of them. The year prior to getting “the call” was the most difficult. It was also the most disheartening. I’d get positive comments about my writing ability. Some would point to my interesting characters and storyline. Others enjoyed my dialogue, etc. They’d include best wishes for a long and prosperous future in the publishing world, but still reject my work. That polite sorry, “not right for me,” comment left me reeling. As the weeks and months wore on, I began to question if anyone would offer me a contract. It got so bleak I quit for almost a year. That period of my writing life really was the dark before the dawn!

You came back to writing after a year’s hiatus. I suspect that means that someone encouraged you to continue writing. Who was this special supporter of your writing?

My husband. He’s always been supportive of me, no matter what I do.

Now, here are some of my writing questions: Do you find yourself talking to your characters when you’re doing ordinary tasks such as putting on makeup, washing dishes, driving your car?

I don’t actually ever talk to them directly. I’m more of a fly on the wall, watching their every move.

What a picture you paint in my mind, Anne. Without closing my eyes I can see you sitting quietly and observing the realm you imagined! Ever find yourself zoning into the world you have created when you’re supposed to be listening to something else such as church services, friends talking, or during a class of some sort?

All of the time! I actually get annoyed with the real world for interfering or disrupting what is happening in my imaginary world.

Have you ever found yourself growing too fond of a villain? How does this affect your story and how do you deal with the problem; assuming it is a problem for you?

Not a problem so far. But I do have trouble with secondary characters that just walk onto center stage and take over. It’s tough getting them to back off!

Those naughty characters; when you breathe life into them, they go their own way and refuse to mind. I have the same problem.

If you could choose another time in history to live, when would that be?

I’m very happy right where I am, thank you! The idea of going any place where women might not enjoy equal rights or have access to an education and top-notch medical care terrifies me.

That’s a very good point. Perhaps all of us would be better off to just travel vicariously through books.

If you could travel anywhere in the world to research a book, and if someone else pays expenses, where would you pick?

I have three places: Ireland, Newfoundland and Cornwall. All provide stunning landscape that overlooks the ocean. Oh, and I’ll pay my own way! All three are on my bucket list.

How do you celebrate special times: finishing a novel, signing a book contract, or solving a tough plotting problem?

I tend to be pretty low-key when it comes to celebrating any milestone in my life. My philosophy is to enjoy and cherish each and every day rather than focus on one or two days out of the year. Or worse, one day out of an entire lifetime!

However, I was visiting the U.K. when my debut novel was released. A pair of sterling silver earrings caught my eye, and I realized they would be the perfect memento. Neither flashy nor expensive, they fit perfectly into my lifestyle…and my budget!

What a wise woman you are, Anne Albert. It’s been so interesting to meet you. Could you give readers some internet sites where you can be found?

Thank you so much, Jackie, for featuring me today on this stop of the Murder We Write Blog Tour. I’d like to invite readers to visit my website or my main blog

If they drop by my Muriel Reeves Mysteries blog and leave a comment mentioning this interview, I’ll enter their name in a draw to win a pdf copy of FRANK, INCENSE AND MURIEL. I’ll announce the winner at the conclusion of the tour, sometime during the week of August 22, 2011.

How about that Readers? I’d love for you to leave a comment here, then go directly to Anne’s Muriel Reeves blog site and sign up for a chance to win this great book. May you all have a blessed day.



Thursday, July 14, 2011

Mystery We Write Blog Tour with Vivian Zabel

Vivian, welcome to Mystery We Write Blog Tour, and thanks for spending time with us. We appreciate your sharing details about your life and about your latest novel? Would you start by describing STOLEN and how it came about?

My latest novel, Stolen, is a mixture of mystery, suspense, and even love, but it is not a classic mystery. Torri Adamson discovers her playboy husband has a second wife and takes her children home to Oklahoma. She rebuilds her life with her grandparents, mother’s brother and his wife, and closest friend, until her friend dies of cancer. Torri rebuilds her life again and shared grief with her friend’s widower develops into love. Then her life is torn apart when her children are stolen.
The story is one I had to write after I couldn’t find a way to deal with the pain of two grandchildren being taken by their father. When the novel was written, we didn’t know if they lived or not or where they were. I took the agony, loss, and frustration and gave them to Torri. Of course I still felt the loss, deeply, but at least could better deal with it.

Losing a child must be the most frightening thing imaginable. Just the thought makes my blood run cold. This book is in now my TBR stack. Will you be writing any other books of this sort?

I have a sequel to Stolen in the works, titled Betrayed, because that how missing or kidnapped children feel when they return home and discover everyone else’s life continued.

I’d never thought of the emotional trauma kidnapped children must suffer after they’re safe. Just their coming home has always seemed like a happy ending to me, but just your one sentence has opened my eyes. Of course, that’s exactly how they would feel: BETRAYED. Now I have a new title on my book list.

Were there any challenges in getting STOLEN published?

I had my novel “sold” to two different publishers at different times, but they wanted a happily-ever-after ending. I couldn’t change the ending because doing so would change the whole theme of the book: rebuilding one’s life when trauma and destruction hits. Therefore, I put the manuscript back in the computer and waited.
When I started 4RV Publishing, I wasn’t going to do self-publishing. My submissions go through the acquisition editors just as every submission does, anonymously. Stolen was accepted, however one of my submissions has been rejected.

It’s astonishing that you were ejected by the publishing company you started and now operate. That’s what I call a testimony of integrity. I’m going to check out more of the 4RV books! Now, another question: Who designed your book cover and did you have any say in the final result?

Willow Raven designed the book cover. I was able to give suggestions after she did the design, but I didn’t have any other control. She captured the essence of the writing.

I think readers would like to know something about your personal life. Do you have a pet? If so, tell us about this special relationship.

I have two cats. I love German shepherds, but we don’t have a room for a dog. Therefore, we have Funny Face, who’s nearly 15 years old, and Shadow, who’s about six months old. Funny Face can count to three and knows “treat” means run to the kitchen because I’m going to give him canned cat food. He isn’t able to climb into my lap well any more, but he will sit by my chair until I help him up. Shadow is the great-great-great-great (etc.) grandson of a tom cat I had for over ten years, and he’s smart as can be.

Your cat stories put a smile on my face. I love cats! So independent, a bit like writers, don’t you think? Tell us what are you now reading and who are your favorite authors?

I read Carolyn Hart (what a delightful woman), J.A. Jance, Merline Lovelace, William Bernhardt, Jordan Dane, and others. However the ones named are from Oklahoma, even though Jordan has now moved to Texas, and I know or at least met them all.

If you could choose another time in history to live, when would that be?

I would want to live in the future when houses cleaned themselves and the medical world healed us easier.

Good choice! I think that we’d all like that. Now just a couple more questions:
If you could travel anywhere in the world to research a book, and if someone else pays expenses, where would you pick?

Just one place? Hmmm … I would love to go to Europe and visit the countryside. Yes, a few places in some of the major cities would be enjoyable to see, but I would want to visit the country, castles, villages, and such. I’d like to see places where some of my ancestors lived.

Another good choice and I’d like to trail along. Now for one final question: How do you motivate yourself to write when you’re not in the mood to create even one more sentence?

I allow my mind to take over and create more of the “movie” of my manuscript in my head. That’s how I do my writing anyway, in my head. I have the characters, plot, everything real to me before I put my fingers to the keyboard or pen to paper.

Ah! The magic of writing.

Thanks so much Vivian for stopping by and sharing your life and experiences with us. It’s been fun.

Readers, post any questions or remarks that you have for Vivian, I’m sure she’d be glad to respond. May all of you have a joyful and creative day.

Vivian's Links:


STOLEN and other books by Vivian Zabel can be purchased through any bookstore, on Internet book stores, and through


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Mystery We Write Blog Tour with Jennifer Dicamillo

Welcome to week 7 of MYSTERY WE WRITE BLOG SWAP. It’s been wonderful to hear from so many different authors and learn about their work and their style of writing. This week I’m featuring Jennifer DiCamillo, who  is an award winning poet, playwright, and novelist. She is also available as a motivational speaker.

Jennifer lives in a haunted hollow in the Missouri Ozarks, near Branson and is an avid animal lover. Her pets include a paint horse stallion (Wild Card aka W.C.), two little four pound yorkies (Mojo Jojo and Pixie Styx), a cat that was dropped off pregnant in her yard—that answers to CAT. And now she has a couple of lovely kittens that appear to be staying, M-2 and Squirrelly. M-2 looks like the reincarnation of a cat she had years ago, named Midnight.

JACKIE: Welcome to my blog, Jennifer. I’m just back from vacation and feeling happy and relaxed and ready to talk about writing.

JENNIFER: Thanks for having me. Would you mind if I just rambled on? Rambling is something I do best. Being a writer, I tend to be wordy. So, feel free to cut me off any time.

JACKIE: I wouldn’t dream of cutting you off, this is your day to chat with readers. Why don’t you give us a description of your work area, and then segue into your writing process.

JENNIFER: Sure. I guess I can admit to this--my desk is a mess. There are piles of paperwork everywhere. Reams of paper are stacked up on the computer tower. My printer is atop the full file cabinet on my left. BUT the piles are a little organized. When I need to find a specific piece of paper, it doesn’t take long to fish it out of the pond.

My writing is just about the same. I start with an idea, or a couple of characters, and I let them go pell mell through the story, and my brain, piling up conflicts and sweet encounters (I love to write romance). So, I fully believe in character driven stories. After all, if you don’t care about the hero and heroine, what’s the point in reading the book?

I believe this is true in every genre, including mystery. No-- especially mystery. Of course, in mystery, the author is expected to lay out a plot that’s thick with red herrings. I prefer putting in very subtle clues.

Sometimes, when I’m writing mystery, I have to go back in later and add clues.

JACKIE: Do you write every day?

JENNIFER: I have OCD. I’m either all or nothing. I prefer to get up and go straight to the computer. Sometimes I’ll sit there for 20 hrs, with only bathroom and water breaks.

JACKIE: Twenty hours? My eyes would be crossing. We’re all different, aren’t we? When you aren’t working on your book, what do you do with your time?

JENNIFER: Well, I have five kids, four girls and a son—and a husband. And just this year, I got my first grand baby, Anna Elizabeth. She takes up a lot of my time. I’ve been babysitting her during the week.

JACKIE: Congratulations, grandchildren are wonderful, and I’ve learned a lot from mine.

JENNIFER: Thanks. One thing Anna has taught me is to enjoy every minute. And I do. I delight in her every smile, her every cuddle.

JACKIE:  That’s a good plan, they grow up quickly. My grandbabies are all teens, now. Do you find that everything in your personal life becomes grist for your writing-mill?

JENNIFER: I certainly do. My mysteries spider out from (some) character’s conception to the death of other characters. Which brings me to a topic often debated by mystery writers, and I’m going to ask myself that question: Does there need to be a dead body to make a good mystery?

I have a collection of short mystery stories, many are award winners, but not all have a dead body in them. The anthology is called MENTALLY UNSTABLE. It’ll be released by Under the Moon Press. Some of those stories were written strictly to entertain me.

Then, I have a collection of short stories written with C.J. Winters titled Deadknots, by Hard Shell Word Factory. It’s been out for awhile. I’m sure your mystery fans would like it.

I also have a book that just released in ebook by Mojocastle Press. It’s titled FOUR DEAD. It’s about a couple of detectives that have the hots for each other and a serial killer on the loose. Four bodies were found in dumpsters over the last four months. The story begins a week before the fifth body is expected to turn up.

Since it is a romantic suspense, there is quite a bit of sexual tension. The kickers in the story are simply fun. Beth (the heroine) is obviously in love with Mike (the hero). But she gets him to set up dates with his brothers.

While Beth is on those dates, Mike is turned upside down and sideways with jealousy. But he keeps on tailing her…because he’s figured out that she fits the profile of the victims. WHY she is chosen by the serial killer is a mystery your readers will have to figure out on their own. It’s a fun story, and not your typical cozy mystery.

JACKIE: Sounds exciting. I write cozy mysteries, which are much more sedate. Have you ever tried this genre?

JENNIFER: Actually, there are a few cozy stories in that collection I mentioned earlier (MENTALLY UNSTABLE). It has a little bit of every type of mystery, some humorous, some political, some hard boiled. You name a type of mystery, and there’s probably an example of it in the collection.

JACKIE:  Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

JENNIFER:  I sure do. Believe. Believe you can get published, that you can learn what you need to in order to be a successful writer. And then get busy learning. Go to conferences. Realize that the business is very social, networking and edifying those who are published, or are editors, love to be “sucked up to.” Buy them a drink. Chat about gardens. Hold real conversations about everyday life. If you do, you’ll stand out in the crowd. So many people swamp editors and agents, etc., begging them to look at their book. If you act as if it doesn’t matter, you get asked to send your manuscript.

And there’s a little thing I call my ADD rule. Look at your manuscript(s) honestly. You should be able to flip to any page and see a balanced story. Sure, sometimes a page is a little heavy with one thing or the other. But in that case, you can look and see if it needs a little more ACTION, DIALOGUE, or DESCRIPTION. Using that little rule, you can fix pacing problems, too.

I hope this helps someone.

JACKIE: I’m sure it will. Thanks for joining us today to chat about writing.

JENNIFER: Thanks for having me.

Dear Readers, A million thanks to each of you for stopping by. Here are a couple of places where you can learn more about Jennifer:



Cyberhugs to all,
Jackie King