Thursday, December 26, 2013

A BOOK COVER DILEMMA: MYSTERY SOLVED

NEW COVER
You’ve heard the mantras often enough:

The cover sells the book
The cover is all important
Poor cover, poor sales 
 
But what happens when the cover you use is something you like, really like, for several reasons, but the cover doesn't translate well to the computer monitor or e-Reader device? For me, it was a mystery with no apparent solution. In fact, it took me two weeks to resolve the dilemma. 

Often, I would awaken in the early morning hours with visions of my original book cover dancing in my head, without the benefit of sugar plums to dress it up. The cover sported my choice of colors, but the layout was too dark to be appealing or easily visible on an electronic device. After spending hours designing a new cover, I would revert to the original. Because, beyond logic, I still liked it. 

Tuesday morning, at 0438 hrs. to be precise, I crawled out of bed, accompanied by those dancing visions again. If I didn’t want to keep losing sleep, I knew it was time to get serious about changing the cover on my latest Pepper Bibeau mystery novel, WITH FIERY VENGEANCE. 

Now, finally, I have a new book cover, all dressed up for the ball, so to speak. No, it won’t be attending any of the parties slated for President and Mrs. Obama’s visit with ʻOhana here in Hawaii (the talk of the beauty parlor on Monday!) but I’d lay bets they would like the new design. 
 

 
The reason this cover is appropriate for the novel is because the through-line focuses on Pepper's fourteen year old son, on circumstances occurring over the years that led to current situations, and how the boy is affected by events unfolding during Pepper's stay in Hawaii.
 
 
All of the Pepper Bibeau mysteries are available in ebook and trade book format at Amazon.com
 
The novels are free-standing, but if you want to start with Book 1, FOR EVERY ACTION in ebook format is available for 99 cents from 12/26/2013 to 1/1/2014.
  
 

Monday, December 9, 2013

PEPPER is back WITH FIERY VENGEANCE

In the third novel of the series, Pepper Bibeau returns to Hawaii to visit her son on the Big Island and attend a wedding. The vacation is meant to be a time of healing for her son’s father, and relaxation for the family. Instead, unfolding events reveal Pepper’s inner strengths, and a guilty weakness.

Insurance Investigator Pepper Bibeau returns to Hawaii in December, 1972, where a vengeful stalker shadows her from Island to Island. While in Hawi on the Big Island, to visit her fourteen-year-old son and attend her cousin's wedding, Pepper discovers a body on the blood-soaked back seat of an abandoned classic Woody. A poorly executed plan of a local police detective fails to trap a suspect, who then flees to Oˋahu. 

When a Wisconsin woman is injured in an accident on Oˋahu, and the husband threatens to sue his insurance company, Pepper's assignment is to get his signature on a medical insurance release form. After the suspect in Hawi flees to the labyrinth of Honolulu's Chinatown, Pepper follows. Her plan is simple: settle the medical insurance claim, and flush out the suspect. 

Personal strife, unexplained deaths, and ghostly events are interwoven with the burning anger of a father who has lost all reason. With the sanity of a killer in question, Pepper must fight to save her family, and herself. 

WITH FIERY VENGEANCE Anger Burns Deep is a soft-boiled Mystery wrapped in a Traditional Cozy, an enjoyable read for those quick breaks between all the holiday activities.
Available today, along with all of the Pepper Bibeau Mystery series, at Amazon: http://amzn.to/1iNbwKU

Monday, December 2, 2013

SETTING AND ACCOMPLISHING GOALS

November was a busy month for me. I participated in NaNoWriMo2013 and am a WINNER; co-published an anthology of stories by 13 authors; and put the finishing touches on the novel I started during last year's NaNoWriMo and will publish at the end of this week, December 7, which is my protagonist’s birth date.

Accomplishing that many projects took some interesting juggling of time. Each morning I was up and writing before six o'clock to get in my quota of words for the NaNoWriMo manuscript. I didn’t always reach my goal, but there was always the Saturday write-ins at Ward Warehouse’s Paina Cafe in Honolulu. The camaraderie, and pasta at The Spaghetti Factory during break, helped me move the story forward and reach my word count of 50,000 words on November 29th.
Several hours each day were spent on editing, revising, and formatting my third novel in the Pepper Bibeau mystery series, WITH FIERY VENGEANCE Anger Burns Deep. With assistance and encouragement from critters, beta readers, and editor, I was able to mold the NaNoWriMo2012 manuscript into an exciting story that I am proud to publish.
The anthology, MYSTERY IN PARADISE 13 Tales of Suspense, was a group project with local writers. The short stories are mysteries set in Hawaii:  
From cozy mystery to classic crime, from gumshoe to urban noir, MYSTERY IN PARADISE is a collection of twisted, heart-pumping tales of suspense in all its guises. These 13 utterly unforgettable stories by 13 of the hottest authors to hit Hawai`i’s literary scene are sure to leave you with chicken skin as they take you on a ride through the seamier side of Paradise.

The e-Book is available NOW on Amazon,
and the trade book is coming soon!
 
 
Is this mynah bird to die for?
Special thanks go out to contributing author, Laurie Hanan,
for photographing the scenes and designing the cover for
MYSTERY IN PARADISE
13 Tales of Suspense
 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Meet Aunty Lehua, Author of YA Niuhi Shark Saga

Fast Forward is an author interview about the writer’s second novel in a series. My guest today is Lehua Parker, a special lady who has a talent for making the impossible sound absolutely normal. At least, that is my reaction to her stories. Known to many, in the Hawaiian fashion, as Aunty Lehua, she is originally from Hawaii, a graduate of The Kamehameha Schools and Brigham Young University. As an advocate of Hawaiian culture and literature, her writings often feature her island heritage and the unique Hawaiian Pidgin.

Lehua tells tales that are difficult for me to describe. Rather than trying, I have asked her to give us all the details! 
Author Lehua Parker
FAST FORWARD: Welcome and Aloha, Lehua. A story’s protagonist often reflects an author’s personality, or displays characteristics the author has chosen to explore. Can you please share with us some of the back story that defines your protagonist but isn’t included in the published novels?

LEHUA PARKER: Thanks for hosting, me Gail! Alexander Kaonakai Westin—Zader—is found abandoned on a reef as an infant and adopted by a local Hawaiian family. He’s got a few quirks that set him apart from most kids, like being allergic to water. The entire Niuhi Shark Saga is about Zader discovering his backstory and deciding how he will live his life once he knows the truth about his parents and who he really is, so I can’t share too much about Zader. However, I can tell you more about Uncle Kahana, a secondary character that fills a similar role as Professor Dumbledore in the Harry Potter series. 

In my series Uncle Kahana serves first as protector, then mentor, and finally an adversary to Zader as he navigates through the challenges of understanding why he’s not like other kids. I have a whole backstory to Uncle Kahana that’s hinted at but not explained. On the surface, Uncle Kahana seems like an old beach bum, someone who is a little odd and lives off what he can gather from the ocean and the charity of others. His four-legged companion is ‘Ilima, who isn’t the dog she seems. 

The real backstory is that Kahana’s father was a lua master and the person responsible for remembering all the family’s ancient Hawaiian history, genealogy, and cultural knowledge. Somewhere in his youth, Kahana had a fight with his father, denied his teachings as Hawaiian superstitions, chose a more Western world view, entered the military, and went to Vietnam. During this time ‘Ilima leaves him, his father and sister dies, and he finds himself returning to Lauele Town, trying to fulfill a kupuna/kahu/kahuna role for his family without the formal training. 

By the time Zader enters his life, he’s in his mid-sixties and has made peace—mostly—with his past. He’s seen as a Hawaiian culture leader in the community, but a lot of what he says is based on his own assumptions because he never learned the truth—and that trips him up.

He also owns most of the beach-front land in Lauele Town and refuses development, which is why the area has a by-gone era feel to it. Kahana lets people believe Hari owns the store he lives above because he likes to fly under the radar and it’s easier for him to do the kinds of things he needs to do if everyone thinks he’s just “one broke ‘okole old man.” Someday I’ll write Kahana’s story, but it’s a little too mature and complicated to cram into an MG/YA series! 

FAST FORWARD: After writing the first novel in a series, it seems that subsequent novels would flow out fully formed. The author has the basics down: format for the storyline; a feel for the proper number of plot lines and chapters; techniques for creating a charismatic protagonist and supporting characters; secrets to making the antagonist likeable; and guidelines for adding conflict right up to and through the denouement. How has writing become easier for you; and what remains as difficult now as when you wrote the first novel? 

LEHUA PARKER: The most challenging part continues to be morphing what I had in my head as a side plot to a complicated adult novel into a cohesive series for middle grade and young adult readers. While kids today go through the same challenges I did at their age, it all looks so different! It’s tough sometimes to channel an authentic 12 year old boy’s voice when I’m late for carpool. It’s also a struggle to strike the right balance between explaining enough about words like kapu and li hing mui so mainland readers can follow the action without boring island kids. But with book two, I feel that I really understand my main characters, which does make the writing easier. I can put them in different kinds of situations or combinations and know exactly what they’ll say and do. One of the big secrets to the Niuhi Shark Saga is that it’s really one long story broken into smaller, middle grade bite-size books. 

FAST FORWARD: To hold a reader’s attention, a series protagonist must continue to grow or change in each novel. Without revealing any spoilers, how has your protagonist developed or changed from Book #1? 

LEHUA PARKER: In book 2, One Shark, No Swim, Zader’s eyes are beginning to open. He’s a little older and less trusting of the information adults give him. He questions more and looks for his own answers. As he matures, his other nature rises to the surface and he becomes constantly hungry, more aggressive, and restless at night. Uncle Kahana sees the changes, but still believes he’s in control—until the moment he’s not. 
 
 

FAST FORWARD: A series requires the presence of a continuing main character. Often, however, there is another recurring character. The almost infinite pairings of main characters with guy/girl Fridays or wingmen could claim its own category on Jeopardy. Is there a recurring secondary character in your series? What is the purpose/role of that character within the plot? 

LEHUA PARKER: Since Zader, the protagonist of the Niuhi Shark Saga, is eleven at the beginning of the series, there’s a whole host of recurring characters. There’s Jay, his almost twin brother who is the popular athlete, surfing star, and good student Zader often wishes he could be. Char Siu is the gal-pal who’s firmly in Zader’s corner and provides a cooler head to Jay’s sometimes testosterone-driven ideas. She’s also a foil for exploring the differences between girls and boys.  

Lauele Town is full of characters islanders know well—from teachers who go out of their way to help kids get into private schools to the aunties who teach ukulele lessons at Summer Fun to school bullies who fight simply because they can. Throughout the series I’m hoping to build a rich environment where island kids feel at home and mainland kids feel like Hawaii’s a real place with real people and not some Hollywood set full of coconut bras and tiki curses.  

FAST FORWARD: Researching a new novel takes the author on a journey to many new places, whether through books, movies, newspapers, or physical travel. What did you most enjoy about the research process of your second novel, and where did your research take you? 

LEHUA PARKER: One of the most eye-opening experiences was returning home to Hawaii with my family after being away for five years. When my kids were little and we’d visit, nothing about Hawaii seemed to faze them—not the ocean, the food, the local customs, or the environment. Now that they’re teens, it’s all foreign to them. Observing their reactions to everything from jellyfish to purple taro rolls to afternoon rainstorms really showed me how different life in Hawaii is from the mainland. I had to laugh at things like leaving your slippahs upside down on the beach—so intuitive to island kid and so surprising to mine when they burnt their feet packing up to head back to the hotel. Simply being in Hawaii again, smelling the plumeria and hearing people talk as they walked through Costco made it so much easier to sit in my mainland office in the middle of a snowstorm and write book 2. It also makes a good excuse for another trip before book 3! 

Where can fans of your novels find you and your books on the Internet? 

Blog & Free Short Stories: http://www.lehuaparker.com/

All things Niuhi Shark Saga: http://www.niuhisharksaga.com/


Twitter: @LehuaParker

Books: One Boy, No Water and One Shark, No Swim are available online as trade paperbacks, hardcovers, and eBooks through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes.

In October I will be signing books at various Barnes & Nobles in Utah—please check my websites for updated locations and dates. This fall I am also visiting many schools. If anyone is interested in an in-person or on-line author visit, please contact me at AuntyLehua@LehuaParker.com

 

Monday, September 23, 2013

This is My Definition of Happiness. What's Yours?


View of Lake Michigan from Two Rivers, WI

Recently, I attended my 50th high school class reunion. Although Washington High School has been torn down, the beach house across the road from Lake Michigan still stands. Reminiscent of school days, a Friday night behind-the-beach-house beer party featuring Sandy Bay Port pizza preceded the reunion held at the downtown Hamilton Community House on Saturday evening.




Over 60 classmates and spouses attended the week-end events, collaboratively arranged by the generous reunion planning committee. Following an actual face-to-face social media hour, and a delicious buffet dinner (not to mention an open bar for those of us interested), we were regaled with a slideshow presentation entitled Four plus Fifty, highlighting our four years of high school and touching on the fifty years since.



Our MC offered a tribute to all class members who served in the military. He displayed several other applause-generating slides of school activities that included sports events, reigning prom king and queen, hall of fame inductees, and school mascots. A special thank you was offered to one classmate for her tireless efforts in bringing decades of class reunion events to fruition.



The presentation concluded with mention of my writing efforts, implying that a 50th class reunion does not signal the end of the road for goals and accomplishments but in fact offers, for many, a new beginning. One classmate enlivened the evening with his rendition of songs by Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash, and Elvis Presley, as entertaining as he was in high school. Wherever your dreams and objectives led you over the years, today you can use those accomplishments as stepping stones toward your new goals.

My interest in writing mystery novels, the excitement of actively researching plot scenes and interacting with other authors, and seeing my work in print, offer satisfaction and pleasure for this 60-something mind, body, and soul. This is my definition of happiness. What’s yours?


Monday, September 2, 2013

My Take On: CRY OHANA, Adventure and Suspense in Hawaii

The setting of CRY OHANA, Adventure and Suspense in Hawaii, encompasses the Hawaiian islands of O’ahu, Mau’i, and the Big Island of Hawaii, with much of the action occurring throughout O’ahu. Woven into a suspenseful tale is the story of family members on diverse journeys to restore relationships once diminished by neglect and deceit. It is evident that coauthors Rosemary and Larry Mild conducted extensive research prior to writing this novel.
 


Throughout CRY OHANA, the reader is treated to the emotional rollercoaster thrill of action-packed events. A rainbow of unforgettable characters are backlit with views of elite hot spots or back alleys, the exotic, and even the mundane.

Contrast is a key ingredient as protagonist and antagonist square off. At times they appear to create a balance before tipping the scales to the advantage of one, only to have a subtle shift benefit the other in a subsequent scene. An early line in the opening chapter might effectively describe both characters: “If you’re not winning big you’re desperate to get even.”

CRY OHANA is not a quick beach-read involving a sunny holiday destination, but rather a comprehensive story of a family devastated by tragedy, a situation to which many readers will relate on some level. The inevitable, plot-thickening struggles of the individual family members portrayed in the novel are overlaid with acts of murder, blackmail, domestic violence, and selfish indifference. The possibilities of salvation rest in the generosity of others.

While this mystery continually moves toward a satisfying solution, CRY OHANA also offers a journey as challenging and pleasurable as its anticipated destination.

Rosemary and Larry Mild are the coauthors of the popular Paco and Molly Mystery Series, as well as their most recent novel, Death Goes Postal, the first in the Dan and Rivka Sherman Mysteries. Their books can be found in print and eBook formats on the Internet and in bookstores. For full information, visit the Milds at their website:

www.magicile.com 
For local residents and visitors to Hawaii, CRY OHANA is now available on O’ahu, at Na Mea Hawai’i bookstore in Ward Warehouse.



Monday, August 26, 2013

Meet Author Cheryl Linn Martin's Maile


Author Cheryl Linn Martin's third mystery in The Hawaiian Island Detective Club series is Ukulele Undercover.
 
 
Included in The Hawaiian Island Detective Club are Leilani, Kimo, Sam, and Maile. Featured in today’s interview is Maile. 

Maile, you just helped solve a third mystery for The Hawaiian Island Detective Club. Do you have a favorite memory?
Not really a favorite memory. I mean, I can laugh about it now, but at the time it was the grossest, wildest ride I’ve ever had in a truck. That old fishing bucket and empty milk carton smelled super yuck-o. And don’t even ask me about how we got out of there. I think I still have bruises! But at least we got some good evidence and discovered a few clues to help solve the mystery.

Were there any other gross moments for you? 
Oh, yeah! You see, someone was leaving threatening notes around the music school and me, Leilani and Sam were taking ukulele lessons with Kimo like undercover detectives. Anyway, some kid took one of the bad notes and threw it in the garbage. Of course Leilani wanted the note, but before we could get to it, another kid threw wet gunk all over it. (Maile scrunches her nose) And that garbage can really stunk big-time!

So, Maile, what do you think of Brandon?
New Guy? He’s totally cute and super nice. (Maile smirks) I think he likes Leilani and I’m pretty sure she likes him too.

How is it working with Leilani, Kimo and Sam on these mysteries?
Leilani is the best. She keeps me sane when I feel like totally freaking out. Even though Kimo irritates Leilani, he’s always a huge help with the mysteries. I hope Leilani makes him a real member of The Hawaiian Island Detective Club. Then there’s Sam . . . well, Sam’s a guy. Most of the time he’s funny and crazy, but so gross with all his eating and belching.

Some readers seem to think you like Sam.
(Maile shrugs and avoids eye contact) Sam’s cool.

(I cock my head and grin) Maile, this is the third mystery you kids have solved. You can tell me how you really feel.
(Maile sits up tall and sets her jaw) No comment.

(I chuckle) I understand, and thanks for visiting, Maile.
 
Look for all of Cheryl Linn Martin's The Hawaiian Island Detective Club novels at:
 
 
 
 

 

 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Why I Self-Publish in the Face of Delusion


Donald Maass, head of the Donald Maass Literary Agency, says if you don’t want to reach readers, then by all means, self-publish. (see Mark Coker’s post )

He sticks by his guns in the face of Mark Coker’s telling Mr. Maass that he thought he was underestimating the transformative impact self-published authors will have on book publishing. He looked Mark Coker in the eye, smiled, and said, “and I think you’re delusional.” to which Mark replies, “Touché!”
But think about it. I have 800+ ebooks in my Kindle archives right now. How many of those are good books, and how many are great books, and how many are not worth my time of day? If an editor, publisher, and book store had vetted these books, I wouldn’t have to do the work myself. You wouldn’t have to do the work yourself, and you and you and you. That’s the picture I see when I look at self-publishing.
Am I against self-publishing? No, I am all for it . . . for myself. I have always been a do-it-yourselfer, from sewing clothes, to giving myself pedicures/manicures, even at one time cutting my own hair.  Why? Money, or lack of same. Do I plan to make money writing and publishing my own novels? No, that is not my goal.
My question to Mr. Maass is, “If I wait until an agent agrees to represent me, then wait for said agent to find a publishing company interested in my novel, then wait for said book to be edited, formatted, and published in the image of said publishing company, then self-market said book - as will be my responsibility - how many more readers will I reach and how much more money will I net than if I self-publish?
I have a feeling his answer would be, “There is no way I can answer that question, Gail.” (I love Mr. Maass’s book, The Fire in Fiction, and just know he would respond to me by name) “And,” he would add, “I think you’re delusional.”
 
 
The Fire In Fiction by Donald Maass
 

Monday, July 29, 2013

A STUDY IN GREEN: Giving Words Meaning

 
While editing a short story today, I noticed a Hawaiian name, Ma'omaka, that I had applied to a hapa-haole (part-Caucasian) character: Ma’o for green, maka for eye. I didn’t use the name to suggest she was envious or jealous, but as a detail of her Irish ancestry. 

It got me thinking that no word in a short story, or even in a novel, should be used without purpose. I should only use words that give meaning to the story. If a man steps into the scene wearing a green shirt, it is important to know the reason he is wearing the green shirt.  

Why is it important to the reader that the man is wearing a green shirt? Is it because the shirt is green? Or because it is “that” shirt? Or maybe because he is the one wearing the shirt?  

To illustrate: 

1. The man walked into the room tugging at the collar of his green shirt. He didn't especially like the color green, but his mother picked out all his clothes and this shirt had been on sale at Penneys, half-off. She never passed up a sale on shirts, regardless of color. 

This might suggest to the reader that the man is sort of a “Mama’s boy.” In this example, the color of the shirt is almost incidental. 

2. The man walked into the room wearing a green shirt. Last week, he received the shirt as a birthday present from his wife who loved the color green. He hated it. 

Might this suggest he is hen-pecked, or that he also hates his wife? 

3. The man wearing a green shirt walked into the room. The shirt belonged to his lover who had jilted him only last week, discarding the crumpled shirt on the closet floor. 

So many possibilities here. 

In each case, the reader interprets the details based on experience which may have nothing to do with the color green. Maybe the reader had a domineering mother who insisted on choosing all her wardrobe items for her. By hinting at the character’s thoughts, it offers the reader an opportunity to relate to the scene or the character in a personal way. 

To me, this works better than utilizing the green shirt only to veil “all those rippling muscles outlined by a downy coating of blonde hairs.” Well, maybe not.
 
But unless the secret to a mystery is concealed under that green shirt, I plan to give it a role, or remove the shirt completely.
 
 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Role Models and Writing a Mystery Series


Michael Connelly
author of
detective and crime fiction novels


My penchant for reading mystery novels led me to choosing the mystery genre when I decided to write a novel. The idea of writing a series germinated in the back of my mind, but my focus was on getting the first story on paper and developing my characters. What I knew of my protagonist was included in the first novel. If I liked her enough to keep close, great. Otherwise, there were other options.

As things worked out, Pepper Bibeau became my alter ego. Not that she is a second me, more a trusted friend because what we have in common is friendship. In my first novel, FOR EVERY ACTION, Pepper's physical appearance and heritage were patterned after two of my most trusted friends.

One of my role models is author Michael Connelly, who has some interesting suggestions about writing a series. He says everything you know about your protagonist at the time should go into your current story, not be held back for the next novel.

You can read more of Mr. Connelly's suggestions from his CraftFest session at ThrillerFest “The Series Character: How to Do It Right” here:

http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/michael-connelly-on-the-no-1-key-to-writing-a-series 

Some of my favorite Michael Connelly novels:




Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Deadly Storm - A Kelli Storm Novel (Volume 3)


The interview featured below with author Kenneth Hoss was posted on April 22, 2013.

 
Ken's third Kelli Storm novel is now available in print at Amazon.
 
Deadly Storm - A Kelli Storm Novel (Volume 3)
 
click here:

Deadly Storm - A Kelli Storm Novel (Volume 3) by Author Kenneth Hoss

 


 
My guest today is a good friend, fellow author and member of The Independent Author Network, Kenneth Hoss. Ken was born at Carswell Air Force Base in Fort Worth, Texas and served a combined total of fourteen years on active duty in both the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy. His tours of duty took him to such diverse locations as Europe, Hawaii, Guam, The Philippines, South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Okinawa, the Middle East and Pakistan. 

Welcome, Ken, and thank you for participating in a Fast Forward interview today to discuss the second novel in your Kelli Storm Police Procedural series. A story’s protagonist often reflects an author’s personality, or displays characteristics the author has chosen to explore. Can you please share with us some of the back story that defines your protagonist, Kelli Storm, but isn’t included in the published novels? 

KENNETH HOSS: Well, there isn’t much to add to Kelli’s story, as her life is an open book, no pun intended. She is a composite of people, both men and women, which I have interacted with over the years. There is, I will admit, some of myself in her too. We have both had our trials and tribulations.
 
 

FAST FORWARD: After writing the first novel in a series, it seems that subsequent novels would flow out fully formed. The author has the basics down: format for the storyline; a feel for the proper number of plot lines and chapters; techniques for creating a charismatic protagonist and supporting characters; secrets to making the antagonist likeable; and guidelines for adding conflict right up to and through the denouement. How has writing become easier for you; and what remains as difficult now as when you wrote the first novel? 

KENNETH HOSS: It has become easier in the sense that both Kelli and I have gotten to know each other over the course of the first two books. I know how she thinks, how she will react in a given situation. With the first book, I had a basic idea of Kelli, but I didn’t really know her until the end of the book. With the second book, I wanted the story to go in a different direction from the first book, but Kelli didn’t and it took five false starts before I listened to her. After that, it flowed. What I am still finding difficult after the first book is my discipline. I still find myself procrastinating instead of writing, though I am getting better. 

FAST FORWARD: To hold a reader’s attention, a series protagonist must continue to grow or change in each novel. In Sue Grafton’s ABC series, Kinsey Millhone does not age (much), or get married, or acquire children, but she expands her knowledge of the job, begins to carry a gun, and discovers family relatives who are woven into the storyline. Without revealing any spoilers, how has your protagonist developed or changed from Book #1?  

KENNETH HOSS: In the first book, Kelli would let her anger take over, get the best of her at times. In book two, she is learning to control it, not letting it run her. I won’t say that she doesn’t still get angry, but at least she hasn’t threatened to blow someone’s head off lately. 

FAST FORWARD: A series requires the presence of a continuing main character. Often, however, there is another recurring character. The almost infinite pairings of main characters with guy/girl Fridays or wingmen could claim its own category on Jeopardy. Two Mystery/Suspense series authors and their interesting (equal or supporting) characters that come to mind are Tess Gerritson’s Rizzoli & Isles; Clive Cussler’s Dirk Pitt and Al Giordino. Is there a recurring secondary character in your series? What is the purpose/role of that character within the plot?  

KENNETH HOSS: There are several recurring characters in my books, though the main one would have to be Kelli’s ex-husband, Kevin. He first appears in book one when Kelli needs his help. There is still a spark between them after several years and this only serves to complicate her life even more.

FAST FORWARD: Researching a new novel takes the author on a journey to many new places, whether through books, movies, newspapers, or physical travel. What did you most enjoy about the research process of your second novel, and where did your research take you? 

KENNETH HOSS: I enjoy everything about researching a book, and I am always learning new things. In book two, my research took me deeper into the world of the Colombian and Mexican drug cartels, and it was extremely eye opening. I read things that I could not include in the book due to the graphic nature, even though there are several descriptive scenes in the book. Most of my research was taken from current events, at the time of writing, which was and still is some very scary stuff, especially since I live in North Central Texas.
 

Where can fans of your novels find you and your books on the Internet? 

Links: 

Ken Hoss – Author – http://kenhoss.blogspot.com



Twitter - @kennhoss

Monday, July 1, 2013

In Pursuit of the Facts with Author Elizabeth Wilder



Author Elizabeth Wilder
Today’s special guest for a FAST FORWARD interview, which focuses on the second novel in a series, is author Elizabeth Wilder. Betty and I first met through the Internet writers group, The Independent Author Network. Her first novel, The Spruce Gum Box, captivated me from the first pages. In my review, I wrote, “Author Elizabeth Egerton Wilder, a born storyteller, has created characters that snap with personality.” As a senior that never gave up on her dream of finding time to write a novel, she launched The Spruce Gum Box on her 72nd birthday. 

Thank you for participating in this interview, Betty, and sharing information about your second novel, Granite Hearts, your research process, and interesting trivia about mason jars gathered in your pursuit of the facts. 

E.E. WILDER: Thank you Gail for including me in your “Fast Forward” interviews. Your questions were probing, causing me to examine my own thought process. It took me a while to work through some areas and in doing so grew to better know my own process. BTW – My muse was most appreciative. 

FAST FORWARD: A story’s protagonist often reflects an author’s personality, or displays characteristics the author has chosen to explore. In your series, the protagonist is “One family, One Journey of early Maine settlers.” Can you please share with us some of the back story that defines your protagonist/family but isn’t included in the published novels? 

E.E. WILDER: Although I can see many traits of people in my life and those of my own in characters in Granite Hearts, I did not start this “journey” with a specific protagonist in mind. I am by nature a curious creature who likes to find the why and how in any new scenario. 


In researching my husband’s family as “pioneers” who helped settle the town of Washburn along the Aroostook River in northern Maine, I found that when they “hacked their way in” through the forest from the coast, many Canadian families were already well established along the river. When visiting the museum housed in the original Wilder home, no one could tell me why the Canadians were there first. So began the five-year process of research to uncover the history and find a way to tell the story of the battle between the US and UK over the boundary of this lucrative lumbering area and the plight of the Micmac Indians being displaced. Thus the story of Jed and Ben evolved to tie the gems of history together. 

In Granite Hearts, the “family” once again was the string, which held together the fascinating history along the Penobscot River. This area was rich in events so the story travelled another 20 years from building Fort Knox, to the Penobscot Indians and their plight, to the underground railroad, to earliest women’s rights. The story continues to the election of Hannibal Hamlin as Lincoln’s first VP, then to the heroics of the Maine 20th under Joshua Chamberlain in the Civil War. What you showed me was that the protagonist(s) in my stories was the nugget of history I wove together by character driven tales of ups and downs, joys and sorrows, and struggles to survive sometimes-cruel situations. 

FAST FORWARD: After writing the first novel in a series, it seems that subsequent novels would flow out fully formed. The author has the basics down: format for the storyline; a feel for the proper number of plot lines and chapters; techniques for creating a charismatic protagonist and supporting characters; secrets to making the antagonist likeable; and guidelines for adding conflict right up to and through the denouement. How has writing become easier for you; and what remains as difficult now as when you wrote the first novel? 

E.E. WILDER: I had to chuckle at the notion of Granite Hearts flowing out fully formed. I feel my writing technique has become more natural to me, it is easier to form a chapter that will lead the reader to the next and it is not as difficult to dig for new or validating information. I guess I truly like my character protagonists so it is not difficult to make them someone you may want to meet. I have never struggled with secrets to make an antagonist likeable. Just the opposite, I enjoy squeezing every bit of despicable out of them. In Granite Hearts, however, the lead antagonist is an inanimate granite fort that provides a living but at the same time proves negative for the family. 

The final outcome is known to me as is the beginning before I start writing. This helps me focus on ways to reach that outcome. As for how writing is easier, I have gained a lot of confidence in my skills – mostly through trial and error, write and rewrite. My need for research is as difficult now as it was with my first novel for I want fact to be fact, and fiction to be fiction. For example, I wanted the youngsters in Granite Hearts to chase fireflies and put them in mason jars. Were there mason jars at that time? Turned out it was still too early for them. Guess I’ll have the next generation chase them. 

FAST FORWARD: Great comment about squeezing every bit of despicable out of your antagonists! To hold a reader’s attention, a series protagonist must continue to grow or change in each novel. In The Spruce Gum Box, the reader is introduced to the Smythe family, Jedediah Smythe and Adelaide Wingate, and their son, Ben. Early in the novel, Jed meets three boys, including Sean “Uncle calls him Trouble.” Without revealing any spoilers, how does Sean Ryan represent family development and change in Book 2? 

E.E. WILDER: Of the three brothers one had left the Indian settlement on the Aroostook and lived a quiet life as a teacher near Bangor on the Penobscot River. Of the two left only Sean would jump at a chance to start anew with his bride in hopes to provide a better life for her and to escape the bigotry still strong within the growing communities along the Aroostook.  He felt his father’s red Irish hair and fair complexion would carry him in a new environment where no one knew his background. They had just started clearing the land for the new fort and he was not afraid of hard work. His nickname of Trouble still held and his obsessive drive to succeed with dreams of becoming a finish stoneworker drove a negative wedge into his part of the Ryan family development.  

FAST FORWARD: A series requires the presence of a continuing main character. Often, however, there is another recurring character. In your novels, the family represents the protagonist. In Granite Hearts, Sean Ryan is the recurring character who continues the family story with his wife, Gert. However, Gert is actually the strong female protagonist who carries the story. What is Gert’s purpose/role within the story and how well does she handle the suspenseful and often life-changing situations that arise? 

E.E. WILDER: I have always considered The Spruce Gum Box a father/son story but was very surprised when Granite Hearts became a mother/sons story.  I’m not sure if Gert would have become so strong if not for the influence of her next door neighbor, Mrs. Hodge. Her late husband was unusual among men of the times for he made sure their home and large farm was deeded to his widow. She was well traveled, well read, a community activist and no nonsense boss of her thriving farm. She and Gert shared a common love of reading and from there a deep friendship developed that would allow Gert to grow as a woman, not merely a wife under the thumb of a demanding husband. Through grit and determination Gert raised her boys and at times a child-like man, her husband. She handled difficult situations with outward bravery and private weeping. When I told my son that Granite Hearts was becoming a story of a strong woman, he replied “Should I be surprised?” 

FAST FORWARD: Researching a new novel takes the author on a journey to many new places, whether through books, movies, newspapers, or physical travel. What did you most enjoy about the research process of your second novel, and where did your research take you? 

E.E. WILDER: Obviously, we made trips to Fort Knox in Prospect, Maine across the Penobscot River from Bucksport to walk the grounds and tunnels. We drove around on one trip and found the spots to place the Ryan and Hodge homes and I took photographs of the terrain, river and roads. We visited museums, read archived newspapers, and chose names from mid 1800’s genealogies. The only books I read were about Joshua Chamberlain and Civil War battles. I have never thought of taking research from movies – I like to discover my own information. In addition I studied antique maps and searched the areas via satellite using MapQuest. I enjoy digging deeper and deeper into bits and pieces on internet search engines. I love finding the occasional surprise that works perfectly to drive the story. 

Where can fans of your novels find you and your books on the Internet? 

Links:






Facebook author site   https://www.facebook.com/eewilder


Blog  LizLogic  http://www.lizlogic.com/


Books through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Indie Bound – ordered through your local bookstore.
Kindle versions through Amazon.
Wholesale through Ingram, Baker and Taylor, and publisher direct. Discounts given to qualified book clubs.

 

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