Monday, November 26, 2012

Dying in a Dumpster

Today Wild Women Authors are pleased to welcome Lesley A. Diehl, author of Dumpster Dying, a January 2011 release from Oak Tree Press. Its sequel, Grilled, Chilled and Killed, will be released in upcoming months.
Dumpster Dying, a mystery set in Florida, is not just another story about sunny beaches and bikini-clad beauties. In it, Florida natives collide with winter visitors in murderous, yet often humorous ways.
Where are you from, Lesley? I divide my time between upstate New York and rural Florida and set my books in both locations. This one, the first in the Big Lake mystery series and its soon to be released sequel, Grilled, Chilled and Killed is set in rural Florida.
What is Dumpster Dying about? My protagonist, retired preschool teacher Emily Rhodes, is a winter visitor to rural Florida. She finds a body in the dumpster behind the place where she bartends. When her best friend is accused of the crime, Emily tries to find the killer, but runs into difficulties in a community where winter visitors are looked upon with some suspicion. In the sequel, Grilled, Chilled and Killed, Emily again stumbles over a dead body, this one in a beer cooler truck at the Big Lake Barbeque festival and cook-off. Her attempts to find the killer lead her into the swamps of rural Florida where she encounters wild pigs and wilder moonshiners.
What made you choose writing mysteries as a profession? Mystery writing is my second career. I retired as a psychologist and college professor, but thinking and writing about murder is much more exciting.
Knowing what you know now, if you had it to do over again, would you stick with psychology, or do something different? I think my background in psychology provides great insight into developing believable characters and understandable motivations.
What is your biggest fear? That I have too many ideas for books and I’ll not find the time to write all of them.
Who is your favorite fictional character and why? Any character created by Elizabeth George is tops with me. All her characters are so real, so multi-dimensional and psychologically complex.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received? Don’t expect to get rich at writing.
Which writer or character from either books or movies have had a major impact on your writing? I like to write mysteries that are humorous with sassy and funny and adventurous characters, so I love Janet Evanovich because she seems to feel the same way I do. Nothing is too over the top for her, a message I’ve taken to heart in constructing my protagonists.
With regard to research, where did you start for this novel? Did that lead you down different paths, thereby changing the original concept? I spent a lot of time in cowboy bars watching folks dancing and observing the bartenders concocting their drinks. I also eavesdropped on conversations. I was part of a writers’ group, many of whom were from families who had lived in rural Florida for generations. Because this is a big bass fishing area, I drew on what the natives here told me about fishing the lake. For my take on winter visitors, I had only to talk with my friends from the north who spend the winter here. You can say most of my research involved getting some insight on the people who live in rural Florida the winter months.
Let's take a look at an excerpt for Dumpster Dying:
Emily Rhodes, the new bartender at the Big Lake Country Club, blew damp tendrils of sun-bleached hair out of her face as she kicked and dragged three plastic trash bags across the sun-baked asphalt lot behind the clubhouse. A full moon illuminated the area’s lone palm tree under which sat a metal beast waiting for its nightly feeding.
Here you go, big boy,” she said. She let go of the bags and, with one hand, lifted the dumpster’s lid on the side closest to her. The usual stench of rotting garbage assaulted her nostrils. She ignored the smell and tried to heave the bag into the container, but it tumbled back out. Too full. She shoved back the lid on the other side, and mentally crossed her fingers that she wouldn’t have to hop in there and stomp around on that stuff to make room as she did the other night.
By the glow of the security light she spotted a white object lying at the far end of the dumpster, a cowboy hat, a very special cowboy hat, a Silver Belly, expensive and worn by very few men. She’d encountered just such a man earlier in the evening. The circumstances of their meeting were not pleasant.
What the hell was that doing here, she wondered. Emily leaned in as far as she could. Her feet left the ground, and she teetered on the rim of the dumpster. She struggled to reach the hat, tugged at it, and almost went head first into the bin, head first onto the man’s face hidden beneath the hat.
Ugh! She fell back and dropped the metal lid, the clang reverberating off the side of the building in the still night. She covered her mouth with her hand, and leaned against the dumpster. That can’t be. I didn’t see that, did I?
She turned, opened the lid once more, gingerly pushed a garbage bag to one side, and peered in for another look. She remembered him from earlier in the evening when he had grabbed her blouse and tried to pull her across the bar. He had worn a brilliant white cowboy shirt with roses appliqu├ęd on the front yoke. Now the shirt front was as dark as the blood-red flowers.
She gulped hard to hold back the bile working its way up from her stomach and looked around the lot. It was empty. Help. She needed help.

This sounds like so much fun—and being two wild authors from upstate New York, we're always interested in different publishing houses so we can share the news with other authors, both experienced and pre-published. How did you hear about Oak Tree Press? What influenced your decision to submit to them? Tell us a bit about their submission process. How long did it take from query to release? The publisher of my series set in upstate New York was a regional publisher and not interested in a book set in Florida so I sent it to Oak Tree Press, a press in Illinois open to submissions from unagented writers. It was reviewed, accepted for publication and released in about a year’s time. They are particularly supportive of writers who already have a presence on the internet, and they ask for a marketing plan with the submission.

To learn more about Lesley A. Diehl and the stories she creates go to: www.lesleydiehl.com http://anotherdraught.blogspot.com

Thanks for for taking the time out of your busy schedule to visit us today, Lesley. We wish you much luck with Dumpster Dying and Grilled, Chilled and Killed.
Kat and Veronica




Monday, November 12, 2012

Let's get a close-up on CLOSE-UP

Today Wild Women Authors is pleased to welcome author Kit Sloane who brings Margot O’Banion, from CLOSE-UP, a 2011 release from Oak Tree Books.
Good afternoon, Margot. Tell us a bit about CLOSE-UP. This is a behind-the-scenes mystery about goings on during the production of a movie in Los Angeles. I’m the film editor and my partner, Max, is both writer and director of the new production. He becomes fascinated with including cameos of stars from long ago, incorporating them into his movie with some unpredictable results and I warned him this could happen….
What made you choose film editing as a profession? Years ago film editing was one of the only areas in film production where women flourished. I chose it because I love movies and I love the idea of putting together miles of film or tape in creative ways to make a director’s vision come to life.
Knowing what you know now, if you had it to do over again, would you stick with film editing or do something different? I can’t imagine doing anything but editing. It’s in my blood!
What is your biggest fear? That the new technologies will eliminate the creativity that goes into making movies with actual film. So far, this hasn’t happened. The main complaint to tape is that cinematographers can’t get the same depth of colors, particularly blacks and whites, from it. But filming digitally just demands different sorts of creativity. The new technological advances do, however, make it difficult to stay on the learning curve!
Who is your favorite fictional character and why? Max and I love old movies. We love Nick and Nora in The Thin Man Series from the 40s, and also classic noir films of the 40s and 50s.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received? Do what you love. Make a success of something that really thrills you.
It's Kit's turn to be quized: Which writer or character[s], from either books or movies, [or both] have had a major impact on your writing? I think British writer P.D. James has had the greatest influence on me. I’ve read all her books several times through the years. Her descriptions and characterizations simply blow me away!
With regard to research, where did you start for this novel?
I was on a set, thanks to my daughter and cover artist, Annie Sperling, who is a production designer in Hollywood. I was leaning against a wall, trying to keep out of the way and to avoid stumbling over cables, etc, when I witnessed the makeup artist come running up to the director. She was furious that the main model had come in already made up. The director answered her with “I saw that. I recognized the eyebrows.” In other words, each makeup artist has her own style and he noticed that the model’s in question makeup wasn’t done by their own makeup person! That attention to detail started my story.
Did that lead you down different paths, thereby changing the original concept? No, I keyed off the comment above and took it from there. The story is about the importance of details and that works well in a mystery!
My stories highlight behind-the-scenes plots that include interesting characters who often make terrible choices, and it’s not always murder that comes to mind. To me that's what makes characters fascinating, the choices they make. I like characters who make decisions, not just mayhem. There are many kinds of bad behavior out there.… As Library Journal says about the series: “Suspects abound, from envious family members to movie backers, but Margot and Max are on the job. A terrific read, complete with sexy, slightly larger-than-life characters and lots of L.A. action.”
Kit, tell us a bit about your publisher. How did you hear about them?
I’ve known the publisher of Oak Tree Books, Billie Johnson, for years. She has longevity as an Indie publisher in a field where small publishers fail fast and often.
What influenced your decision to submit to them? My then publisher was having monetary problems and a fellow author mentioned Oak Tree. I contacted Billie and she immediately picked up my series that then numbered four books. She also wanted the covers to continue with my daughter’s cover art work. They are distinctive covers!
Tell us a bit about Oak Tree's submission process. Guidelines are available at http://oaktreebooks.com/guidelines.htm. Billie looks at and publishes many different genres beyond mysteries. She DOES appreciate a “clean” ms, meaning good grammar and punctuation and traditional ms formatting.
How long did it take from query to release? Just months from query to publication. Very quick and easy. Billie is easy to work with and I DO submit “clean” manuscripts!
To learn more about the Margot & Max Mystery series, go to: www.kitsloane.net
To purchase CLOSE-UP: go to Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble or to the publisher’s “bookstore” at http://oaktreebooks.com/Shop%20OTP.htm where the titles are listed alphabetically and at a nice discount! CLOSE-UP is also available for e-readers on Kindle and Nook.


Monday, November 5, 2012

Lrt's Get Framed

Today at Wild Women Authors is pleased to welcome author Nikki Andrews and Mac (short for Maculato), assistant canine sleuth from Framed, a current release from L&L Dreamspell.
Where are you from, Mac? I’m in Nikki’s murder mystery Framed. I’m the most important character because I find the bad guy!
What is Framed about? It’s about how my human, Elsie, and her friends at the Brush & Bevel gallery figure out who really killed artist Jerry Berger and his model Abby Bingham. It’s kind of complicated for a dog to understand, but I get to help.
What made you choose bird hunting as a career? I was born to it. I’m a German short-haired pointer. Hunting is in my genes, and my wonderful human, Elsie, has helped me develop my talent.
Knowing what you know now, if you had it to do over again, would you stick with bird hunting or do something different? I like hunting birds. It’s fun to get out in an open field and flush them into the air. I love to catch their scent and watch them fly away. I like hunting in the woods, too, except for having to get groomed for ticks afterwards. But—please don’t tell Elsie—what I really love is chasing frogs. They’re so funny and you can never tell which way they’ll jump. I could chase frogs all day long!
What is your biggest fear? Getting separated from my human or lost in the woods. Sometimes I run off after a bird, but I always know where Elsie is, even if I don’t come right away when she calls.
Who is your favorite fictional character and why? Enzo, the dog in The Art of Racing in the Rain. He’s so smart, and he gets to ride in a real race car. His people love him so much. And he even comes back to life as a human! I’m not sure I’m ready for that yet, but someday I’d like to try it.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received? “Find a bird, Mac!”
It's our turn to turn the tables onto Nikki: Which writer or character, from either books or movies, has had a major impact on your writing? Must I limit it to one? I go back to Tony Hillerman again and again for the sheer beauty of his writing. Although it is as spare as the land he describes, he packs more emotion into it than many more florid writers. Dick Francis’ novels are a joy to read because of the research he blends so seamlessly into them. Not only do you get to solve the mystery, you have the pleasure of learning about a different trade or career. I try to bring a little of both Hillerman and Francis into my writing.
With regard to research, where did you start for this novel? Did that lead you down different paths, thereby changing the original concept? I worked as a picture framer for nine years and I loved it. Almost all my research springs from that experience. I should state right here that although I collected many stories and character sketches from my time at the art gallery, the people in my book are most definitely not real-life transplants. At most, the staff, vendors and customers served as inspirations for my fictional people.
I was very lucky in my research. When UPS did not have the lost and found policy I imagined, I searched out an independent courier to learn about her trade. She was very helpful, as were the police chief I talked to and my contacts in journalism. To my gratified surprise, I wasn’t so far off base that I had to make major changes in the book.
Here's a short description of Framed:
When a long-lost painting turns up ten years after the murder/suicide of the artist and his model, a gallery owner wants the case re-opened, to uncover the truth.
Brush & Bevel owner Ginny Brent has more reason than most to doubt the police. She was artist Jerry Berger’s mentor and agent. When a customer walks into her shop with a previously unknown work by the artist, renewed grief impels Ginny to seek answers. She knows Jerry didn’t kill himself or Abby Bingham, the model pictured among the trees in the painting. Can she discover who did?
Ginny’s loyal staffers, Sue Bradley and Elsie Kimball, employ their own methods to help find the truth. Elsie follows her exuberant young bird dog into the forest, through frog-infested puddles, and discovers a pile of glacial boulders that might be the actual setting for the painting. Sue cleans years of smoke and grease from the canvas and puzzles over strange markings revealed under the gunk. What could they mean?
As they prepare to frame and unveil The Lady in the Wood, the trio must deal with the sometimes whimsical needs of their customers and their eccentric neighboring shopkeepers. And as they get closer to solving the mystery, they also learn that art is not the only thing that can be framed.
Tell us a bit about your publisher, Nikki. How did you hear about them? What influenced your decision to submit to them? My publisher is L&L Dreamspell of Spring, Texas. A friend of mine, Cindy Davis, who had been published there, referred me to them after reading Framed. After I checked out several of their books and decided it was a good fit, I submitted my manuscript through their website and it was accepted.
Tell us a bit about their submission process. How long did it take from query to release? The Dream Team, Lisa Smith and Linda Houle of L&L, did a fabulous job with editing and creating a cover that catches the eye. After a gestation of about nine months—a pretty standard length of time—I held my first copy of Framed in my hands.
Thanks for visiting us today, Mac and Nikki. Veronica and I wish you many many sales.
Kat
To learn more about Nikki and the stories she creates go to: www.nikkiandrewsbooks.com
www.scrivenersriver.blogspot.com
To purchase Framed in print or ebook, go to www.lldreamspell.com