mystery authors

Where Do Characters Come From? + Giveaway!

>I’m thrilled to have a very special virtual author friend here today!  Many of you already know Elisabeth Spann Craig as the fab author who scours thousands of websites and blogs and tweets the plethora of amazing writing-related links she finds to quality articles. If you don’t already follow Elizabeth on Twitter, you are missing out on a major cache of information! (@elizabethcraig).

Yesterday, Elizabeth released the third book in her Memphis Barbeque mystery series for Penguin/Berkley w/a Riley Adams.  If you haven’t read one of Elizabeth’s books, I recommend you pick one up.  She is a fabulous writer with fun storylines, twisting plots and quirky, real characters.

She’s talking about where those characters come from today and we’re giving away 3 copies of Elizabeth’s new release HICKORY SMOKED HOMICIDE and 5 custom handmade bookmarks!  Just leave a comment to enter.


HICKORY SMOKED HOMICIDE

BBQ-joint owner Lulu Taylor knows pretty much everyone in Memphis who lives ribs. But one person she’d rather not know is Tristan Pembroke, a snooty pageant couch with a mean streak. When she finds Tristan’s dead body stuffed in a closet at a party, the police are suspicious- especially since Lulu’s developed a taste for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Caught in a situation stickier than molasses, Lulu must clear her name, or risk getting fried… 

Where Characters Come From by Elizabeth Span Craig

Writers are frequently asked, “Where do your ideas come from?”

I think most writers have a stock answer to this question. We’ll claim brainstorming or muses, or just random inspiration out of the blue.

Those are all true. But sometimes, ideas come after us. And frequently, they’re in the form of characters. We can actually build a whole book around a great character. For me, and I’m sure it’s the same for many writers, characters are sometimes inspired in unusual ways:

Strangers:

There are tons of characters around us every day. Sometimes I’ll actively go looking for interesting people. Fairgrounds and amusement parks and malls are great for this purpose. It’s amazing how many different types of people you’ll see. Stiff and grim, young and bubbly, odd and self-conscious.


Sometimes these people will even come up and talk to me. Even if I’m not looking for characters, I’ll frequently have strangers come over to tell me the most remarkable things at the grocery store, drugstore, or post office. I think writers are magnets for these folks somehow—and they don’t even realize that’s what we are. The cool thing is that writers can take bits of one person (maybe their appearance) and bits of another person (their unusual gestures or diction or humor) and create a character that’s an amalgam of the two.

Acquaintances who don’t realize they’re characters:

Sometimes characters appear at the least expected times. There was another mother at my son’s soccer game once. She was scheduling me on the team snack calendar. I was smiling and nodding, but I didn’t hear a word she said because I was thinking how perfect she’d be as a character in the book I was writing. Even better that I didn’t know anything about her and that she was a stranger—in this case, it was her appearance that was so great. She was perfect for a particular bit part. But I missed my date to bring snacks and had to leave the game to grab some when my week came up. 🙂

Characters who create themselves:

Then, sometimes, you have characters who are too big for their britches. They hop into your head with confidence and they’re not like anyone you’ve ever met. Although they’re supposed to have a bit part in your book, they aren’t content with the role. Next thing you know, they’re taking over your book! They’re scene stealers—they have the best punch lines and shine in the spotlight. These are characters who don’t know their place…you really have to watch them. It’s how my supporting character Cherry ended up with a sidekick role in the Memphis Barbeque series.

Friends who give us insight into our characters:

Sometimes, the opposite problem happens—you have characters who really don’t know their role in your book. They listlessly bumble through their lines and you’re wondering what on earth they’re doing in your story at all. You’re just about to fire them for poor performance when there’s a breakthrough. I wasn’t really getting a handle on one of my beauty pageant characters for my new book, Hickory Smoked Homicide. Beauty pageants can be a big deal in the South, but they were something that I wasn’t personally involved with and was always happening on the periphery of where I was—maybe there was a Miss Anderson waving from a car in a Christmas parade I was watching, etc., but that was about the extent of my involvement. I was aiming for a spoofy, fun look at the pageant world, but I kept hitting a wall.

I was a third of the way through the book and about to scrap the whole concept and start over when I picked up my daughter from a playdate. The mom there asked me politely how my book was going. I’d been struggling with it the whole time my daughter was playing at her house, so I admitted, “You know, I’ve got a big problem with the book.” I told her my concept and the trouble I was having with this character. She said, “Come on inside and have a cup of coffee with me. I’ll give you the dirt on the pageant world.” And she did! There was plenty of motivation for murder there, she assured me. And she gave me a fascinating perspective from someone who’d been involved in small-town pageants.

What we’re all looking for, both readers and writers, is a good character—someone to love, someone to root for, someone to hate. And inspiration comes in unusual ways, sometimes.

Who are some of your favorite characters? Did they come to life for you? Comment to enter to win 1 of 3 copies of Elizabeth’s new release HICKORY SMOKED HOMICIDE or 1 of 5 custom handmade bookmarks!
Books (US Shipping)
Bookmarks (International shipping)
**MUST** provide contact email to WIN!

Elizabeth’s latest book Hickory Smoked Homicide released November 1. Elizabeth writes the Memphis Barbeque series for Penguin/Berkley (as Riley Adams), the Southern Quilting mysteries (2012) for Penguin/NAL, and the Myrtle Clover series for Midnight Ink. She blogs daily at Mystery Writing is Murder, which was named by Writer’s Digest as one of the 101 Best Websites for Writers for 2010 and 2011.

Writer’s Knowledge Base–the Search Engine for Writers
Twitter: @elizabethscraig

>Where Do Characters Come From? + Giveaway!

>I’m thrilled to have a very special virtual author friend here today!  Many of you already know Elisabeth Spann Craig as the fab author who scours thousands of websites and blogs and tweets the plethora of amazing writing-related links she finds to quality articles. If you don’t already follow Elizabeth on Twitter, you are missing out on a major cache of information! (@elizabethcraig).

Yesterday, Elizabeth released the third book in her Memphis Barbeque mystery series for Penguin/Berkley w/a Riley Adams.  If you haven’t read one of Elizabeth’s books, I recommend you pick one up.  She is a fabulous writer with fun storylines, twisting plots and quirky, real characters.

She’s talking about where those characters come from today and we’re giving away 3 copies of Elizabeth’s new release HICKORY SMOKED HOMICIDE and 5 custom handmade bookmarks!  Just leave a comment to enter.


HICKORY SMOKED HOMICIDE

BBQ-joint owner Lulu Taylor knows pretty much everyone in Memphis who lives ribs. But one person she’d rather not know is Tristan Pembroke, a snooty pageant couch with a mean streak. When she finds Tristan’s dead body stuffed in a closet at a party, the police are suspicious- especially since Lulu’s developed a taste for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Caught in a situation stickier than molasses, Lulu must clear her name, or risk getting fried… 

Where Characters Come From by Elizabeth Span Craig

Writers are frequently asked, “Where do your ideas come from?”

I think most writers have a stock answer to this question. We’ll claim brainstorming or muses, or just random inspiration out of the blue.

Those are all true. But sometimes, ideas come after us. And frequently, they’re in the form of characters. We can actually build a whole book around a great character. For me, and I’m sure it’s the same for many writers, characters are sometimes inspired in unusual ways:

Strangers:

There are tons of characters around us every day. Sometimes I’ll actively go looking for interesting people. Fairgrounds and amusement parks and malls are great for this purpose. It’s amazing how many different types of people you’ll see. Stiff and grim, young and bubbly, odd and self-conscious.


Sometimes these people will even come up and talk to me. Even if I’m not looking for characters, I’ll frequently have strangers come over to tell me the most remarkable things at the grocery store, drugstore, or post office. I think writers are magnets for these folks somehow—and they don’t even realize that’s what we are. The cool thing is that writers can take bits of one person (maybe their appearance) and bits of another person (their unusual gestures or diction or humor) and create a character that’s an amalgam of the two.

Acquaintances who don’t realize they’re characters:

Sometimes characters appear at the least expected times. There was another mother at my son’s soccer game once. She was scheduling me on the team snack calendar. I was smiling and nodding, but I didn’t hear a word she said because I was thinking how perfect she’d be as a character in the book I was writing. Even better that I didn’t know anything about her and that she was a stranger—in this case, it was her appearance that was so great. She was perfect for a particular bit part. But I missed my date to bring snacks and had to leave the game to grab some when my week came up. 🙂

Characters who create themselves:

Then, sometimes, you have characters who are too big for their britches. They hop into your head with confidence and they’re not like anyone you’ve ever met. Although they’re supposed to have a bit part in your book, they aren’t content with the role. Next thing you know, they’re taking over your book! They’re scene stealers—they have the best punch lines and shine in the spotlight. These are characters who don’t know their place…you really have to watch them. It’s how my supporting character Cherry ended up with a sidekick role in the Memphis Barbeque series.

Friends who give us insight into our characters:

Sometimes, the opposite problem happens—you have characters who really don’t know their role in your book. They listlessly bumble through their lines and you’re wondering what on earth they’re doing in your story at all. You’re just about to fire them for poor performance when there’s a breakthrough. I wasn’t really getting a handle on one of my beauty pageant characters for my new book, Hickory Smoked Homicide. Beauty pageants can be a big deal in the South, but they were something that I wasn’t personally involved with and was always happening on the periphery of where I was—maybe there was a Miss Anderson waving from a car in a Christmas parade I was watching, etc., but that was about the extent of my involvement. I was aiming for a spoofy, fun look at the pageant world, but I kept hitting a wall.

I was a third of the way through the book and about to scrap the whole concept and start over when I picked up my daughter from a playdate. The mom there asked me politely how my book was going. I’d been struggling with it the whole time my daughter was playing at her house, so I admitted, “You know, I’ve got a big problem with the book.” I told her my concept and the trouble I was having with this character. She said, “Come on inside and have a cup of coffee with me. I’ll give you the dirt on the pageant world.” And she did! There was plenty of motivation for murder there, she assured me. And she gave me a fascinating perspective from someone who’d been involved in small-town pageants.

What we’re all looking for, both readers and writers, is a good character—someone to love, someone to root for, someone to hate. And inspiration comes in unusual ways, sometimes.

Who are some of your favorite characters? Did they come to life for you? Comment to enter to win 1 of 3 copies of Elizabeth’s new release HICKORY SMOKED HOMICIDE or 1 of 5 custom handmade bookmarks!
Books (US Shipping)
Bookmarks (International shipping)
**MUST** provide contact email to WIN!

Elizabeth’s latest book Hickory Smoked Homicide released November 1. Elizabeth writes the Memphis Barbeque series for Penguin/Berkley (as Riley Adams), the Southern Quilting mysteries (2012) for Penguin/NAL, and the Myrtle Clover series for Midnight Ink. She blogs daily at Mystery Writing is Murder, which was named by Writer’s Digest as one of the 101 Best Websites for Writers for 2010 and 2011.

Writer’s Knowledge Base–the Search Engine for Writers
Twitter: @elizabethscraig

Guest Kate George Interview + Giveaway!

>

My guest today, Kate George, won first place in the prestigous Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense with her manuscript Moonlighting In Vermont, now available from Mainly Muder Press, Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Leave a comment or question to be entered for a chance to WIN!!
*4* winners — 2 electronic copies of each of her current novels!
 
 

What do you do to unwind and relax?

I read. Mysteries and Romances, mostly.

Why mystery?

I grew up reading mysteries. Agatha Christie remains one of my favorites, PD James, Mary Stewart who combined mystery and romance – oh heck tons of different writers. I loved Nancy Drew and a gang of English Jr. Sleuths that I can’t remember the name of anymore. The Chalet School series that my Nanna sent me from England also had a lot of suspense written in. So you see, I come by it naturally, all that reading got into my brain.

Are there other genres slivered into your mysteries? Romance? Thriller?

Oh, there’s a hefty dose of romance in my writing. In fact I’m just finishing a paranormal romance with no mystery in it at all. Back on track here – humor is the other element I slice into my mysteries. It’s actually more important to me that my novels are entertaining and make readers laugh than the whole solving the mystery thing.

What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?

I’m not really an expert on good writing, and as sacrilegious as this may seem, I think the story telling is much more important than the writing. Most readers will put up with imperfect writing when the story is engaging. Don’t get me wrong, I like well written books but give me a good story with grammatical mistakes over flawless writing and a boring story any day.

How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?

I don’t use a formula, and I tried plotting but that doesn’t work well for me either. What I do is start with a character and an idea of what the situation is going to be.
For example, in California Schemin’ I already had my main character because I knew I wanted to write more about Bree. She’s really fun to write about. I knew she was going to California with Beau, because he asked her at the end of Moonlighting in Vermont. And I knew that instead of relaxing she was going to discover another dead body. With that knowledge in place I sat down and started writing. Believe it or not, doing that works out much better for me than plotting.

What dreams have been realized as a result of your writing?

I get to go into my local Library and see my books on the shelf. That’s pretty awesome.

How long does it take you to write a book?

Good question. I think the answer is it depends on the book. California Schemin’ took me six months to write, Moonlighting in Vermont a year. Glimmer Girls still isn’t finished!

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

Because I have kids and a full time non-writing job my writing schedule is a bit hectic. I try and write in the early morning when it’s quiet. It’s far easier to write when it’s quiet in the house, but sometimes I have to just suck it up and write regardless of the noise level.

I set a daily word count, somewhere between one and five thousand words a day, and try to write until I’ve reached my minimum count.

Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

I’ve had a rather eclectic life and I get my inspiration from incidents in my life. Bree rides motorcycles because I rode motorcycles. Something in my environment sparks my imagination and the next thing I know there’s a story begging to come out.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

I’d love to have either Jennifer Crusie or Janet Evanovich as a mentor. They both write excellent books that make me laugh, and have characters I can relate to.

What are your writing strengths?

I think story telling is my strength. Once I get into my “zone” and I’m into my story the words fairly fly from my fingertips.

What are your writing weaknesses?

Spelling, grammar and correct punctuation. Thank God for copy editors. I have a weird way of looking at words, and although I’ve gotten better over the years I still have problems, especially with spelling.

What new author has grasped your interest?

Rosemary Harris. She has the Dirty Business mysteries. She’s very fun to read.

What are you reading now?

I’m currently reading In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts by Gabor Maté. It’s a non-fiction book about addiction and how the war on drugs is making the situation worse.

Was there an author or sleuth that inspired you to write mysteries?

What’s your mystery subgenre–thriller, police procedural, psychological, private investigator, cozy? Female protagonist/sleuth is my subgenre. I’m not quite a cozy writer – when sex crops up I tend to leave the bedroom door cracked open, and when there is violence the description tends toward vivid. Both are no-nos in cozies, but I’m not a suspense writer at all. You might put me with the Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evanovich, light, fun reading that tends to make you laugh and keep turning the pages.

Do you enjoy reading all kinds of crime fiction, or mostly the subgenre you write?

I do enjoy reading all kinds of fiction, crime or not, but when I’m writing I stay away from works that I might mimic. It’s important to me that my voice is genuine and stays light.

Does your sleuth have a sidekick?

Bree doesn’t really have a sidekick, but she has a best friend to ride shotgun when Bree needs company. She also has a slew of friends, people she grew up with. They share loyalty and trust each other. I think that’s kind of rare these days. Most people move away from where they were raised, or they get moved around when they’re kids and don’t form those kind of attachements. Here in Vermont the communities are still really close knit. Several generations of families still live in the same town and people have the benefit of really knowing the people in their communities.

I didn’t have that growing up – my parents moved us around a lot. And I like it, but it would make a lot of people crazy, I think. Nothing like having your life be an open book!

When you are first brainstorming the plot, do you start out with the victim, suspects, crime, or sleuth?

Moonlighting in Vermont started out with a place, everything else developed from that. California Schemin’ was Bree plopped down in an unfamiliar place.

Where is the mystery set?

Does the setting play a role in the book? Setting is a huge part of my stories. The places set the tone, and become almost like a character in themselves.

Leave a comment or question to be entered for a chance to WIN!!
*4* winners — 2 electronic copies of each of her current novels!


US/Canada shipping only.

*MUST* leave a contact email to win!

Bio:  Ms. George has always been easily distracted by books and has a life long love affair with mysteries. Her early influences include Mary Stewart, Enid Blyton and Agatha Christie. At one time she owned the entire collection of Ms. Christie’s work including individual copies of the novels that had alternate titles. Ms. George enjoys PD James’s Inspector Dagliesh, Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum, and Robert B. Parker’s Sunny Randall and Spenser. Ms. George began writing at an early age and by age 25 had written her first book, a truly awful novella about a marine biologist. She then wisely took a break from writing.

>Guest Kate George Interview + Giveaway!

>

My guest today, Kate George, won first place in the prestigous Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense with her manuscript Moonlighting In Vermont, now available from Mainly Muder Press, Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Leave a comment or question to be entered for a chance to WIN!!
*4* winners — 2 electronic copies of each of her current novels!
 
 

What do you do to unwind and relax?

I read. Mysteries and Romances, mostly.

Why mystery?

I grew up reading mysteries. Agatha Christie remains one of my favorites, PD James, Mary Stewart who combined mystery and romance – oh heck tons of different writers. I loved Nancy Drew and a gang of English Jr. Sleuths that I can’t remember the name of anymore. The Chalet School series that my Nanna sent me from England also had a lot of suspense written in. So you see, I come by it naturally, all that reading got into my brain.

Are there other genres slivered into your mysteries? Romance? Thriller?

Oh, there’s a hefty dose of romance in my writing. In fact I’m just finishing a paranormal romance with no mystery in it at all. Back on track here – humor is the other element I slice into my mysteries. It’s actually more important to me that my novels are entertaining and make readers laugh than the whole solving the mystery thing.

What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?

I’m not really an expert on good writing, and as sacrilegious as this may seem, I think the story telling is much more important than the writing. Most readers will put up with imperfect writing when the story is engaging. Don’t get me wrong, I like well written books but give me a good story with grammatical mistakes over flawless writing and a boring story any day.

How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?

I don’t use a formula, and I tried plotting but that doesn’t work well for me either. What I do is start with a character and an idea of what the situation is going to be.
For example, in California Schemin’ I already had my main character because I knew I wanted to write more about Bree. She’s really fun to write about. I knew she was going to California with Beau, because he asked her at the end of Moonlighting in Vermont. And I knew that instead of relaxing she was going to discover another dead body. With that knowledge in place I sat down and started writing. Believe it or not, doing that works out much better for me than plotting.

What dreams have been realized as a result of your writing?

I get to go into my local Library and see my books on the shelf. That’s pretty awesome.

How long does it take you to write a book?

Good question. I think the answer is it depends on the book. California Schemin’ took me six months to write, Moonlighting in Vermont a year. Glimmer Girls still isn’t finished!

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

Because I have kids and a full time non-writing job my writing schedule is a bit hectic. I try and write in the early morning when it’s quiet. It’s far easier to write when it’s quiet in the house, but sometimes I have to just suck it up and write regardless of the noise level.

I set a daily word count, somewhere between one and five thousand words a day, and try to write until I’ve reached my minimum count.

Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

I’ve had a rather eclectic life and I get my inspiration from incidents in my life. Bree rides motorcycles because I rode motorcycles. Something in my environment sparks my imagination and the next thing I know there’s a story begging to come out.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

I’d love to have either Jennifer Crusie or Janet Evanovich as a mentor. They both write excellent books that make me laugh, and have characters I can relate to.

What are your writing strengths?

I think story telling is my strength. Once I get into my “zone” and I’m into my story the words fairly fly from my fingertips.

What are your writing weaknesses?

Spelling, grammar and correct punctuation. Thank God for copy editors. I have a weird way of looking at words, and although I’ve gotten better over the years I still have problems, especially with spelling.

What new author has grasped your interest?

Rosemary Harris. She has the Dirty Business mysteries. She’s very fun to read.

What are you reading now?

I’m currently reading In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts by Gabor Maté. It’s a non-fiction book about addiction and how the war on drugs is making the situation worse.

Was there an author or sleuth that inspired you to write mysteries?

What’s your mystery subgenre–thriller, police procedural, psychological, private investigator, cozy? Female protagonist/sleuth is my subgenre. I’m not quite a cozy writer – when sex crops up I tend to leave the bedroom door cracked open, and when there is violence the description tends toward vivid. Both are no-nos in cozies, but I’m not a suspense writer at all. You might put me with the Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evanovich, light, fun reading that tends to make you laugh and keep turning the pages.

Do you enjoy reading all kinds of crime fiction, or mostly the subgenre you write?

I do enjoy reading all kinds of fiction, crime or not, but when I’m writing I stay away from works that I might mimic. It’s important to me that my voice is genuine and stays light.

Does your sleuth have a sidekick?

Bree doesn’t really have a sidekick, but she has a best friend to ride shotgun when Bree needs company. She also has a slew of friends, people she grew up with. They share loyalty and trust each other. I think that’s kind of rare these days. Most people move away from where they were raised, or they get moved around when they’re kids and don’t form those kind of attachements. Here in Vermont the communities are still really close knit. Several generations of families still live in the same town and people have the benefit of really knowing the people in their communities.

I didn’t have that growing up – my parents moved us around a lot. And I like it, but it would make a lot of people crazy, I think. Nothing like having your life be an open book!

When you are first brainstorming the plot, do you start out with the victim, suspects, crime, or sleuth?

Moonlighting in Vermont started out with a place, everything else developed from that. California Schemin’ was Bree plopped down in an unfamiliar place.

Where is the mystery set?

Does the setting play a role in the book? Setting is a huge part of my stories. The places set the tone, and become almost like a character in themselves.

Leave a comment or question to be entered for a chance to WIN!!
*4* winners — 2 electronic copies of each of her current novels!


US/Canada shipping only.

*MUST* leave a contact email to win!

Bio:  Ms. George has always been easily distracted by books and has a life long love affair with mysteries. Her early influences include Mary Stewart, Enid Blyton and Agatha Christie. At one time she owned the entire collection of Ms. Christie’s work including individual copies of the novels that had alternate titles. Ms. George enjoys PD James’s Inspector Dagliesh, Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum, and Robert B. Parker’s Sunny Randall and Spenser. Ms. George began writing at an early age and by age 25 had written her first book, a truly awful novella about a marine biologist. She then wisely took a break from writing.

Twitter Style Interview with Mystery Writer Camille Minichino

>

My guest today is mystery author Camille Minichino, aka Ada Madison and Margaret Grace. This Twitter-style interview is fast and furious and FUN, regardless of the genre you write or read! I found myself laughing out loud while I was formatting the post and reading her answers.
Leave a comment or question for Camille and you’ll be entered to win her latest release THE SQUARE ROOT OF MURDER, from Berkeley Crime

Camille Minichino is the author of three mystery series, beginning with her Periodic Table Mysteries. Her akas are Margaret Grace (The Miniature Mysteries) and Ada Madison (The Professor Sophie Knowles Mysteries). THE SQUARE ROOT OF MURDER released July 5, 2011 and is available at your local bookstore or at amazon.

Read the first chapter of SQUARE ROOT OF MURDER here.

Read Camille’s fun interview HERE:

What is one stereotype about mystery writers is absolutely wrong?
That we’re secretly out for revenge on someone.

What one stereotype is dead on?
That we were not cool in high school but are making up for it.

What do you do to unwind and relax?
Arithmetic.

Why mystery?
Revenge. (See above.)

Are there other genres slivered into your mysteries? Romance? Thriller?
A little romance and a thrill or two.

What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?
A likeable protagonist, whether cop or serial killer; then a good story and clean writing.

How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?
I plunge in.

What dreams have been realized as a result of your writing?
That someone other than my BFFs would read my books.

How long does it take you to write a book?
The first one took 60 years; the next ones took about 3 months each.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
Sleep is overrated.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I use a spread sheet to keep track of my story and word count.

Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
Information from an embalmer cousin; ideas wherever two or more are gathered.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Louis Buzbee, instructor at UC Berkeley Extension.

What are the hardest scenes to write?
Violence, even a slap in the face.

What are the easiest scenes to write?
Funny repartee.

What are your writing strengths?
Dialogue.

What are your writing weaknesses?
Making the plot complex enough to be interesting and challenging to the reader.

Plotter or panster?
I’m a wing-it-er.

What new author has grasped your interest?
I’m stuck with the old: Ann Parker, Thomas H. Cook, Martin Cruz Smith …

What are you reading now?
“Never Let Me Go” by Kazuo Ishiguro.

Was there an author or sleuth that inspired you to write mysteries?
Patricia Highsmith, especially her Ripley books.

What’s your mystery subgenre–thriller, police procedural, psychological, private investigator, cozy?
I write cozy, but I read dark. Love the Dexter books, by Jeff Lindsay.

Do you enjoy reading all kinds of crime fiction, or mostly the subgenre you write?
Everything but the subgenre I write. But no horror or paranormal.

What do you think is a reasonable number of suspects is for a mystery?
No fewer than three, no more than five.

Does your sleuth have a sidekick?
I have 3 sleuths, 3 sidekicks: one cop, one pre-teen granddaughter, one hunky boyfriend.

What attributes do you look for in a sidekick when writing the character?
Complementary to the sleuth, opposite in personality.

When you are first brainstorming the plot, do you start out with the victim, suspects, crime, or sleuth?
Since the sleuth is a given in a series, I start with the victim, then the killer and motive.

Where is the mystery set? Does the setting play a role in the book?
I’ve done both real and fictional settings. Fictional are easier—no one-way-street problems.

How do you feel about interview questions?
I love them!

Where can we find you online?
Facebook
Twitter
Web
Email
Blog

Camille received her Ph.D. in physics from Fordham University, New York City. She is currently on the faculty of Golden Gate University, San Francisco and on the staff of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Camille is on the boards of the California Writers Club and NorCal Sisters in Crime. She’s a member of NorCal Mystery Writers of America and SF Romance Writers of America.

Leave a comment or question for Camille and you’ll be entered to win her latest release THE SQUARE ROOT OF MURDER, from Berkeley Crime   *US/Canada shipping*

*MUST* leave a contact email.

>Twitter Style Interview with Mystery Writer Camille Minichino

>

My guest today is mystery author Camille Minichino, aka Ada Madison and Margaret Grace. This Twitter-style interview is fast and furious and FUN, regardless of the genre you write or read! I found myself laughing out loud while I was formatting the post and reading her answers.
Leave a comment or question for Camille and you’ll be entered to win her latest release THE SQUARE ROOT OF MURDER, from Berkeley Crime

Camille Minichino is the author of three mystery series, beginning with her Periodic Table Mysteries. Her akas are Margaret Grace (The Miniature Mysteries) and Ada Madison (The Professor Sophie Knowles Mysteries). THE SQUARE ROOT OF MURDER released July 5, 2011 and is available at your local bookstore or at amazon.

Read the first chapter of SQUARE ROOT OF MURDER here.

Read Camille’s fun interview HERE:

What is one stereotype about mystery writers is absolutely wrong?
That we’re secretly out for revenge on someone.

What one stereotype is dead on?
That we were not cool in high school but are making up for it.

What do you do to unwind and relax?
Arithmetic.

Why mystery?
Revenge. (See above.)

Are there other genres slivered into your mysteries? Romance? Thriller?
A little romance and a thrill or two.

What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?
A likeable protagonist, whether cop or serial killer; then a good story and clean writing.

How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?
I plunge in.

What dreams have been realized as a result of your writing?
That someone other than my BFFs would read my books.

How long does it take you to write a book?
The first one took 60 years; the next ones took about 3 months each.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
Sleep is overrated.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I use a spread sheet to keep track of my story and word count.

Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
Information from an embalmer cousin; ideas wherever two or more are gathered.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Louis Buzbee, instructor at UC Berkeley Extension.

What are the hardest scenes to write?
Violence, even a slap in the face.

What are the easiest scenes to write?
Funny repartee.

What are your writing strengths?
Dialogue.

What are your writing weaknesses?
Making the plot complex enough to be interesting and challenging to the reader.

Plotter or panster?
I’m a wing-it-er.

What new author has grasped your interest?
I’m stuck with the old: Ann Parker, Thomas H. Cook, Martin Cruz Smith …

What are you reading now?
“Never Let Me Go” by Kazuo Ishiguro.

Was there an author or sleuth that inspired you to write mysteries?
Patricia Highsmith, especially her Ripley books.

What’s your mystery subgenre–thriller, police procedural, psychological, private investigator, cozy?
I write cozy, but I read dark. Love the Dexter books, by Jeff Lindsay.

Do you enjoy reading all kinds of crime fiction, or mostly the subgenre you write?
Everything but the subgenre I write. But no horror or paranormal.

What do you think is a reasonable number of suspects is for a mystery?
No fewer than three, no more than five.

Does your sleuth have a sidekick?
I have 3 sleuths, 3 sidekicks: one cop, one pre-teen granddaughter, one hunky boyfriend.

What attributes do you look for in a sidekick when writing the character?
Complementary to the sleuth, opposite in personality.

When you are first brainstorming the plot, do you start out with the victim, suspects, crime, or sleuth?
Since the sleuth is a given in a series, I start with the victim, then the killer and motive.

Where is the mystery set? Does the setting play a role in the book?
I’ve done both real and fictional settings. Fictional are easier—no one-way-street problems.

How do you feel about interview questions?
I love them!

Where can we find you online?
Facebook
Twitter
Web
Email
Blog

Camille received her Ph.D. in physics from Fordham University, New York City. She is currently on the faculty of Golden Gate University, San Francisco and on the staff of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Camille is on the boards of the California Writers Club and NorCal Sisters in Crime. She’s a member of NorCal Mystery Writers of America and SF Romance Writers of America.

Leave a comment or question for Camille and you’ll be entered to win her latest release THE SQUARE ROOT OF MURDER, from Berkeley Crime   *US/Canada shipping*

*MUST* leave a contact email.

New Years Giveaway: Day 5, Elizabeth Craig/Riley Adams

>You may know Elizabeth Craig as Riley Adams, her pseudonym under which she writers her cozy mysteries with a culinary flair.  Or, if you are a regular on Twitter with a penchant for writing-related posts, you may know her as Elizabeth Spann Craig.

That’s how I first discovered Elizabeth.  The plethora of writing articles she tweets on a regular basis boggles the mind.  She says she follows over some 1200+ blogs.  Probably significantly more by now, and shares solid writing-related posts via Twitter.  An invaluable resource to be sure. 

There is no way I, or many other writers, would have access to the resources she has made available via her tweets, and I’m very grateful for all the time she spends sharing with the writing community.

Secondly, I read her debut cozy, the first in her Memphis Barbeque series, written as Riley Adams, DELICIOUS AND SUSPICIOUS.  A delight! Entertaining, fun, quirky…and I’m giving a copy away today!

Elizabeth writes the Memphis Barbeque series for Penguin as Riley Adams and the Myrtle Clover series for Midnight Ink (under her own name). As the mother of two, Elizabeth writes on the run as she juggles scout leader duties, referees play dates, drives carpools, and is dragged along as a hostage/chaperone on field trips. (Not to mention her regular blog and tweeting all those great writing links!!)

Up For Win Today:
Elizabeth’s debut mystery, written as Riley Adams, DELICIOUS AND SUSPICIOUS.

To enter:
Follow me on Twitter: @joanswan & send me a tweet with #newyear in the message. (Tweet Here)

Book Summary:
Welcome to Aunt Pat’s barbeque restaurant–family run and located in the heart of Memphis, Tennessee. Named in honor of Lulu Taylor’s great aunt, the restaurant is known for its ribs and spicy corn bread, but now the Taylor family will be known for murder–unless Lulu can clear their name…

Rebecca Adrian came to Memphis to suss out the best local BBQ for a prominent Cooking Channel show. Trouble is, Rebecca doesn’t live long enough to mention a bad review. A mystery ingredient has killed her–and now all fingers are pointing to Aunt Pat’s restaurant. Horrified that her family is being accused of murder, Lulu fires up her investigative skills to solve the crime before someone else gets skewered…
 
Works In Progress:
Elizabeth’s second book in the Memphis Barbeque series, FINGER LICKING DEAD, comes out June 7, 2011 from Penguin books. 

The third book in the series is set to launch in November, 2011.
 
Contact Info:
Website
Blog
Facebook
Twitter
Email

Have a great weekend everyone! 

Monday, the giveaway continues with erotic romance author Lauren Dane!

>New Years Giveaway: Day 5, Elizabeth Craig/Riley Adams

>You may know Elizabeth Craig as Riley Adams, her pseudonym under which she writers her cozy mysteries with a culinary flair.  Or, if you are a regular on Twitter with a penchant for writing-related posts, you may know her as Elizabeth Spann Craig.

That’s how I first discovered Elizabeth.  The plethora of writing articles she tweets on a regular basis boggles the mind.  She says she follows over some 1200+ blogs.  Probably significantly more by now, and shares solid writing-related posts via Twitter.  An invaluable resource to be sure. 

There is no way I, or many other writers, would have access to the resources she has made available via her tweets, and I’m very grateful for all the time she spends sharing with the writing community.

Secondly, I read her debut cozy, the first in her Memphis Barbeque series, written as Riley Adams, DELICIOUS AND SUSPICIOUS.  A delight! Entertaining, fun, quirky…and I’m giving a copy away today!

Elizabeth writes the Memphis Barbeque series for Penguin as Riley Adams and the Myrtle Clover series for Midnight Ink (under her own name). As the mother of two, Elizabeth writes on the run as she juggles scout leader duties, referees play dates, drives carpools, and is dragged along as a hostage/chaperone on field trips. (Not to mention her regular blog and tweeting all those great writing links!!)

Up For Win Today:
Elizabeth’s debut mystery, written as Riley Adams, DELICIOUS AND SUSPICIOUS.

To enter:
Follow me on Twitter: @joanswan & send me a tweet with #newyear in the message. (Tweet Here)

Book Summary:
Welcome to Aunt Pat’s barbeque restaurant–family run and located in the heart of Memphis, Tennessee. Named in honor of Lulu Taylor’s great aunt, the restaurant is known for its ribs and spicy corn bread, but now the Taylor family will be known for murder–unless Lulu can clear their name…

Rebecca Adrian came to Memphis to suss out the best local BBQ for a prominent Cooking Channel show. Trouble is, Rebecca doesn’t live long enough to mention a bad review. A mystery ingredient has killed her–and now all fingers are pointing to Aunt Pat’s restaurant. Horrified that her family is being accused of murder, Lulu fires up her investigative skills to solve the crime before someone else gets skewered…
 
Works In Progress:
Elizabeth’s second book in the Memphis Barbeque series, FINGER LICKING DEAD, comes out June 7, 2011 from Penguin books. 

The third book in the series is set to launch in November, 2011.
 
Contact Info:
Website
Blog
Facebook
Twitter
Email

Have a great weekend everyone! 

Monday, the giveaway continues with erotic romance author Lauren Dane!