Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Meet Una Tiers, Author of Judge vs. Nuts

Please welcome my guest Una Tiers, an avid reader, attorney, and independent author in the Chicago area. She is the author of Judge vs. Nuts, a novel she describes as a "Cozy - a mystery without loads of cussing, sex or violence" and "Humorcide - a lighthearted look at murder." Her title and the story's Chicago setting drew my attention to her book.

Reviews of Judge vs. Nuts give some eye-opening insight into the voice and writing style of Una Tiers. One reviewer described the experience of reading Una's story as being "seduced by the lusciousness of her prose and the near flawless timing of her wit."

GAIL: Thank you for taking time to visit, Una.  I worked in the Loop back in the 60's and love reading mysteries set in Chicago. You chose to write a murder mystery with a humorous touch. Can you please share with us more about the novel and your research for Judge vs Nuts?

UNA TIERS: Judge vs Nuts is a story about judicial corruption in Chicago and about a young attorney trying to make a living as a solo practitioner.  While a lifelong resident of the city, I did more research on Navy Pier than anything else.

GAIL: You refer to Navy Pier several times in the novel with interesting descriptions and details that include: ". . . it has a view of the city skyline and can't be beat for a place to daydream or be romantic." You also include some of its fascinating history, from war time up to the installation of the pier's famous ferriswheel. Research is one of the entertaining aspects of every writer's job. Is “the job” the most important part of your protagonist’s life?
UNA TIERS: Fiona Gavelle has little else in her life but work.  She gets divorced early in the book and dating isn’t going too well for her. The detective investigating the murder intrigues her although he isn’t exactly her type.
You can check out all of Una's books and more at

My review of Una's book Lettuce Read Wills:

This is a short book, but it is packed with fun and interesting information about famous people and the contents of their wills. Attorney Una Tiers also gives sound advice to us lesser, or at least less wealthy, mortals about having a will and updating it in a timely fashion.

I was quite surprised to learn of certain wealthy people who died without a will.

The author also includes excerpts from her mystery novels. 
Original article posted July 9, 2012


Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Switching Genres: An Interview with Author Laurie Hanan #WriterWednesday

Author Laurie Hanan joins us today to discuss her most recent novel, The Rainbow Connection, a YA novel set in Hawai‘i. Laurie has a successful mystery series, also set in Hawai‘i, featuring mail carrier Louise Golden who gets tangled in mysterious situations she uncovers on her mail route. With four Louise Golden novels published, Laurie took a break to write a young adult novel. 

From a synopsis of The Rainbow Connection
by Laurie Hanan:

With graduation looming, Emmy’s only friend in her new school goes missing. Brett’s run off before. Her mother and even the cops figure she’s done it again. But Emmy is convinced Brett can’t wait to begin college in the fall, and she would never ditch her super-hot boyfriend. Something bad must have happened to her. Emmy is determined to find out what.


Gail: Thank you, Laurie, for sharing some of your thoughts today on your latest book, The Rainbow Connection. After writing mysteries for so many years, did that discipline allow for an easy transition into writing a young adult story?
Laurie Hanan: Mahalo, Gail, for inviting me to your blog!

     I don’t know if  “easy” is a word I’d use for transitioning to the Young Adult genre. It’s been a long time since I was seventeen, and of course teens today live in a totally different world from the one I grew up in. Developing an authentic voice for Emmy’s character took trial and a lot of error before I felt I was even close. My teen years were painful. Imagining my own seventeen-year-old self in the same tough situations Emmy faces, re-experiencing the raw emotions, and sorting through what my thought processes might have been at that age, gave me more than a few sleepless nights. I also paid close attention to my teenage daughter and her friends, taking notes on their mannerisms and quickly jotting down samples of their lingo. 

     But it was a natural and enjoyable transition to take a peripheral character who I love in my Louise Golden series, develop her personality even more, and give her a mystery of her own to solve.
Her search leads to a secretive religious group. Emmy suspects there is more to the group’s simple lifestyle and ecstatic dance rituals than the peace and harmony they preach.
 Gail: Your comments about re-experiencing raw emotions of teen years and sleepless nights reminded me of the Ernest Hemingway quote — 'There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.'

     In The Rainbow Connection, protagonist Emmy’s maturity has developed through an array of responsibilities within the family, at school, and on the job. Can some of her more questionable decisions that draw her into precarious situations, such as the isolated meeting with Byron at a retreat for a secretive religious group, be attributed to the still-developing reasoning of a teenager?

Laurie Hanan: Absolutely. Science shows us that a teen’s brain is not fully developed. They tend to act on impulse, misjudge precarious situations, and misread social cues and the emotions of others.

     Emmy is impulsive, prone to exaggeration, at times irrational, and makes choices that are downright dangerous. Being a teen necessarily makes her an unreliable narrator. The reader is given insights into the missing girl only through Emmy’s skewed remembrances of her, adding another layer of questions about her disappearance.

Gail: You have taken the characters Emmy and her brother from your mystery series and created a new storyline for them in the YA genre. What, if any, details from their backstories play a role in or contribute to the plotline of The Rainbow Connection? How important is it for a writer to develop a character’s backstory, in a series or a stand-alone novel?
Laurie Hanan: I will answer your questions out of order. When writing a series of stand-alone novels, there can be a fine line between including enough backstory to help readers understand the character, and throwing in so much backstory it confuses the reader and bogs down the flow of events in the new mystery. While each of my novels stands alone, reading the series in order does offer a broader view of the characters’ development over the years.

     In my fourth Louise Golden mystery, Stairway to Heaven, seventeen-year-old   Emmy makes some misguided decisions, resulting in her being kidnapped and held for ransom on a small sailboat during a hurricane. Twelve-year-old Jackie is pulled into the rescue efforts and ends up killing a man to save his sister. While these events play no role in the plotline of  The Rainbow Connection, the experiences do bring about dramatic changes in both Emmy and Jackie, and permanently alter the dynamics between brother and sister.  I originally included some of this backstory in The Rainbow Connection, but my editor felt it “belonged in a different book.” I reluctantly agreed. So, I am currently working on a novella-length recreation of the kidnapping and rescue from the perspectives of Emmy and Jackie. I hope this will shed more light on how the traumatic events affected the two kids.

Gail: This coming of age story has a missing person at its center, supporting the idea that stories in all genres involve a mystery. Having written mysteries, and now YA, did you develop a specific preference in genre for future works, or will you continue with the YA series while adding to your Louise Golden series?
Laurie Hanan: A big part of why I write is to make my readers happy. Louise fans are clamoring for more time with Louise, while Emmy’s new fans are pleading for the next Emmy Hanlin YA novel. My hope is to continue writing more in both series. 

     I’m currently working on another spinoff from the Louise Golden series, a humorous, classic whodunit starring Louise’s eighty-something-year-old stepmother and her geriatric neighborhood watch group.
Gail: Mahalo for sharing so much personal insight into your writing style and  character development, Laurie. The information about backstory is especially educational. I look forward to reading your YA novella and the humorous geriatric mystery. 
Laurie Hanan's Facebook page:

Laurie's books are available at in trade and e-book formats: 


Monday, October 1, 2018


Taking a break every so often from any project or situation, to clear your head and make room for fresh ideas, should be beneficial, even rejuvenating. Remember the FRIENDS episode when Ross thought he and Rachel were on a break from their relationship and nothing that happened (with another woman) during the break counted? You know how that worked out, not a good example of a beneficial break.

Taking a break from writing doesn’t mean your activities during the break won’t benefit your writing. To a writer, every experience is beneficial, everything counts.
A break becomes especially important after writing or editing over a long period of time. Focusing on other projects or activities gives the subconscious time to relax, and allows new creative concepts to surface.
With that in mind, I looked forward to spending time with family who were scheduled to visit the islands and to get in some "locals" sightseeing, something that often falls by the wayside. Plans were set for such diverse activities as whale watching, Island sightseeing, climbing to the top of Diamond Head, touring Pearl Harbor to experience the Arizona Memorial and the “Mighty Mo” (the battleship Missouri where the World War II peace treaty was signed,) and a wedding at Sacred Heart Church in Honolulu with a reception at Turtle Bay on the North Shore.
It is no mystery that the possibilities for future story settings that arose over the break were endless. Every conversation suggested a way to breathe new life into a unique character, each sunset offered a brilliant new mix of colors to improve a scene. Now I look forward to rereading those fifty thousand words I wrote in November, and am eagerly anticipating the research that will flesh out the story.


Some projects take longer than others. The above-mentioned written in November received thorough and painstaking edits over a period of several years. Additional research buoyed several scenes and chapters. As the time came closer to publication (planned for July 23) a problem with the book's cover almost sunk my plans. But I kept moving toward my goal. Even the announcement by CreateSpace and Amazon to jumble my schedule caused only minor anguish (okay, a lot, but in a good way.) Even a break (pun not so funny!) for a total hip replacement didn't entirely halt my march forward, only slow it to baby steps for a spell.

To meet my goal, I "pseudo-published" my latest novel on July 23. This allowed an opportunity for select family members to read and approve its contents. Soon I will make the permanent move from CreateSpace to Kindle Direct Publishing. I've enjoyed the latest break from blogging but look forward to an active future.