Monday, April 22, 2013

FAST FORWARD with 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, April 15, 2013

FAST FORWARD with Author J.A. Schneider


 

Last week, I announced the beginning of a new FAST FORWARD author interview with participating authors who had published their second novel in a mystery/suspense series. Today I want to welcome my good friend and fellow author, Joyce Schneider as my first guest. Joyce began her writing career in the mystery/suspense genre with EMBRYO, a medical thriller that went virile in a matter of months. She followed up with EMBRYO 2: CROSSHAIRS, which is a sequel that begins where the first EMBRYO left her readers breathless.

FAST FORWARD: Joyce, welcome and thank you for participating in this interview today. A story’s protagonist often reflects an author’s personality, or displays characteristics the author has chosen to explore. Without committing (or confessing) to either idea, can you please share with us some of the back story that defines your protagonist but isn’t included in the published novels?

JOYCE SCHNEIDER: Jill Raney, obstetrical intern, started out in the first Embryo as vulnerable-but-gutsy, caring, curious but above all insistent on doing the right thing no matter the cost to her or her career. These attributes almost got her killed. She and the man she loves, obstetrical resident David Levine, barely escaped death at the hands of a madman on the steep roof of an old part of the hospital. The awful scene, captured by overhead news choppers, became a media obsession, run horrifyingly over and over. Jill and David are now reluctant "celebrities" - and the targets of every wacko who wants to share in the attention. 



Including a killer. Some psycho who wants in on the attention, and sends death threats to Jill and David in the form of cryptic, horrifying “clues” on the bodies of women he assaults.

Jill feels fury about these assaults which they must treat, but has a harder time than David getting a grip because of her additional fear of falling: recurrent visions of the awful scene on the roof. Both must still return to their exhausting hospital duties, knowing that any psycho can just walk into a hospital.

How does Jill regain her old emotional strength? With stoic determination. Those two words define her character: stoic determination. Her story in EMBRYO 2: CROSSHAIRS details a gutsy person going through and getting through the darkest, most terrifying time of her life. 

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. Joyce, how has writing become easier for you; and what remains as difficult now as when you wrote the first novel? (Avoiding chocolate doesn’t count!) 

JOYCE SCHNEIDER: Chocolate binges help. I recommend M&Ms with the almonds inside. And...what’s in your heart impels you and helps the writing flow – especially the first draft, which I spew. Difficulty comes in subsequent drafts that want to run in too many directions. Here’s where I struggle to boil it all down to its intense core. Since I aim for fast pace, two words are never better than one, and I chip away & chip away. Typos are my worst headache: since I write fast when the juices are flowing, I wind up with a thousand typos. I have help catching those, but some still escape notice. Argh!

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? 

JOYCE SCHNEIDER: She has fallen more deeply in love. David Levine is her rock, her sanctuary. She has also come to love the sweet-faced baby who has yet to be born, and frets about him. He is an innocent, started in a petri dish and transferred to a silicone cylinder filled with amniotic-like fluid. Dark, creepy photos of him floating in his cylinder blanketed and obsessed the media, Twitter, YouTube. Will he be a normal kid? Taunted by others as he grows up? Would he be safer adopted quietly by “non-famous” people? But Jill and David love him! There’s this and more... 

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. Who could ever forget Tom Hanks’ sidekick, Wilson? Two Mystery/Suspense series authors and their interesting (equal or supporting) characters that come to mind are Tess Gerritson’s Rizzoli and 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?

JOYCE SCHNEIDER: Jill and David join forces to become detectives on their own, helping the police in ways that even forensics experts never imagined. You’ll see how in “CROSSHAIRS.” In this post CSI-era, bad guys know how to leave no physical evidence behind. No prints, no fibers, no eyewitnesses. But Jill and David find new ways to detect criminals. They become like a new age Holmes and Watson! 

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?

JOYCE SCHNEIDER: I most enjoyed talking out the fascinating medical parts with my husband. He’s an endlessly patient physician who loves explaining medical stuff which I interweave as I write. Hard to believe I started out as a Liberal Arts major (French & Spanish literature), because in recent years I’ve become fascinated by medicine and forensic science.

FAST FORWARD: Thank you for the wonderful look behinds the scenes of your second novel. Where can fans of your novels find you and your books on the Internet? 

Links:




Many thanks, Gail!

Joyce

Readers can find Gail Baugniet's review of EMBRYO 2; CROSSHAIRS here:
http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/590854122




 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Sandra Nikolai and "So you know whodunit"

In recent months, I have come across so many interesting and informative blog posts by friends and fellow authors. After reading the article, I usually click "Tweet" to share the link with others on Twitter. Some articles resonate in a special way, and I want to keep on sharing. One such article was written by my friend and fellow author Sandra Nikolai.


Sandra Nikolai,
author of False Impressions
(Megan Scott/Michael Elliott Mystery)

The article is entitled:

So you know whodunit. Now prove it .   
 
Sandra's article begins:
 
When it comes to solving murder mysteries, dedicated fans of the genre have developed an innate sleuthing ability that seems to improve with every additional book they read. True to their passion, they join groups of like-minded members where they exchange comments about the books they’ve read. Many readers post reviews and ratings on Goodreads and other online sites, and aren’t afraid to tell it the way it is.

Please visit Sandra's site to enjoy the full content and comments of her blog post at:

 
 
 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Fast Forward Author Interview Premier


Washington Island ferry
on Lake Michigan
A Mystery/Crime-Fiction/Suspense series isn’t always easy to find. A first novel may hint at a series, but a second novel delivers the promise. Starting next week, I will present interviews with authors who have published their second novel of a planned series. I wouldn’t ask you to eat something I haven’t sampled, so it only seems right that I be the first to answer the questions.
 
What follows is the first “Fast Forward” interview, focusing on the second book in my Pepper Bibeau Mystery series, DEADLY AS NATURE. 

FF: A story’s protagonist often reflects an author’s personality, or displays characteristics the author has chosen to explore. Without committing (or confessing) to either idea, can you please share with us some of the backstory that defines your protagonist but isn’t included in the published novels? 

Gail Baugniet: My protagonist, Pepper Bibeau, is introduced in FOR EVERY ACTION, the first novel in my Pepper Bibeau Mystery series, as a 26-year old Hawaiian-born female. She has a son, though she and the boy’s father are not married. 

Part of the backstory that defines Pepper is her experience in dealing with prejudiced, narrow-minded, and/or bigoted people. Also, from an early age, she was encouraged to make life choices based on her abilities rather than on the fears of others. That specific ideology has gotten her into trouble more than once. 
 
Out to Sea through
Death's Door (Port des Morts)

 

Meandering drive
What has proven particularly surprising to me as the author is how Pepper’s backstory has developed since Book #1. For instance, until recently I had no idea there was more to the story of her mother moving Pepper to Wisconsin after her father dies in a military plane crash, other than to have Pepper live with her father’s family. (The real reason comes out in Book #3.) The best part of a solid backstory is the diverse plotlines it offers for a continuing series. 


Restaurant on Washington Island
where Pepper ate Breakfast 
FF: 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; 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? (Avoiding chocolate doesn’t count!) 
 
Ostrich Park
Washington Island
(owner a Packers fan)

Gail Baugniet: For me, avoiding chocolate isn’t difficult, it is impossible. The first time around, getting the story out was the difficult part for me. Now that I have “discovered” NaNoWriMo, I know how to put the words on paper fast before they evaporate along with the plotline.


Cabin in the Woods
Washington Island
Listening to others, as well as not listening to others, has become much easier for me also. I am comfortable with the story length and chapter layout I’ve chosen, and the challenge of eliminating all unnecessary characters is always fun.  


Gazebo where the wedding
took place
Something that eludes me during the first draft is making the antagonist likeable. That comes later, with the second draft, rewrites, and editing. But the most difficult task for me is writing conflict into each chapter, each character, and each scene. In his book, The Fire in Fiction, Donald Maass stresses the need for conflict at every turn. I envy any writer who can do this with ease.

FF: 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? 


A Wisconsin Rose of Beauty
Gail Baugniet: Pepper Bibeau has some dogmatic ideas about her personal life that slowly evolve over time, sort of analogous to an American president’s method of changing his mind. On the job, she often reminds herself of “another lesson learned.” She slowly adjusts to a nervous-system disorder brought on by a one-year deployment as a nurse in Vietnam. Changes in her relationships, however, tend to occur at a rate equal to shifts in tectonic plates.


Seagulls take over the Beach
on Lake Michigan
FF: 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. Who could ever forget Tom Hanks’ sidekick, Wilson? 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? 

Seagulls flying over
the Beachhouse
at Neshotah Park


Gail Baugniet: Pepper’s man Friday, sidekick, and pillar of strength is her mother’s younger brother, Uncle Fred. He isn’t around much, but when he’s needed, he is always available. Much of his personal life is “backstage” and even Pepper isn’t privy to most of his activities around the country as a real estate broker. Uncle Fred, on the other hand, knows everything there is to know about Pepper and has supported her in any decision she has made since birth. Ah, talk about a pipe dream! 

FF: 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? 

Lambeau Field
Green Bay, Wisconsin
Gail Baugniet: For the second novel in my Pepper Bibeau Mystery series, DEADLY AS NATURE, I returned to my home state of Wisconsin and spent a couple of weeks revisiting old stomping grounds, especially restaurants like Krolls and Coaches Corner, to refresh my memory.

Some of the highlights of my research trip to the eastern portion of the state included meandering drives around the countryside and along the shores of Lake Michigan; a ferry boat ride from the tip of Door County Peninsula to Washington Island; a tour of an ostrich farm; the sight of a beach made up of pebbles polished by millenniums of wave action; experiencing Packerland and cheese curds anew; and eating fresh perch.

My research also included visits to local Wisconsin libraries to view past newspapers, and an interview with a Police Sergeant. My eclectic reading material consisted of relevant topics such as medical procedure, hypothermia, special breeds of dogs, a 1970 Green Bay Packers/L.A. Rams football game, roofing, roses, and rose chafers. Is it any wonder I love doing the research!

FF: Where can fans of your novels find you and your second novel, DEADLY AS NATURE, on the Internet? 


@GailMBaugniet


Amazon:
DEADLY AS NATURE Envy Spawns Grief
http://www.amazon.com/DEADLY-NATURE-Spawns-Mystery-ebook/dp/B0093FJO9G/ref=pd_sim_kstore_1

Monday, April 1, 2013

Happy Easter Happy Spring




Easter came early this year. “The first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox” was how the Nicean council (Council of Nicaea - http://www.islamtomorrow.com/bible/NicaeaCouncil325.htm) of church leaders first established the date for Easter in 325 A.D. The Spring Equinox - first full moon - first Sunday rule still stands. One of my nephews was born on Easter Sunday in 1965 and this year his birthday falls in the third week of April. So, this year, Easter came early.

Celebrating Easter week so close to St. Patrick’s Day doesn’t give one much time to recover! One year that especially comes to mind, I raised my glass of Midori-and-Sour at the Hale Koa beach bar in Honolulu with my sister and her friends visiting from the mainland.  
 We spent one day at the Polynesian Cultural Center on O’ahu’s North Shore and enjoyed Rainbow of Paradise, The Pageant of the Long Canoes. The pageant represents eight Polynesian Island Nations: Samoa, Tahiti, Marquesas, Aotearoa (New Zealand), Hawai’i, Tonga, Fiji, and Rapa Nui (Easter Island).

 











 










After viewing the IMAX Theater presentation of The Coral Reef, we received fresh, purple orchid leis and “pigged out” Hawaiian style at the Hale Aloha authentic Ali’i Luau.
Easter was early this year, and I am eager now for spring to arrive in earnest. The celebration of spring includes a period of renewal, whether on the greening slopes of Diamond Head on Oahu; in the pleasant climates of Florida and Arizona; or following the final, crisp days of winter in Massachusetts and Wisconsin. Rain showers freshen the air, flowers appear more colorful, the sun shimmers far brighter, and...
. . . you just feel like smiling!
Because Spring is the perfect time to renew those goals set on New Years Eve, I am working on renewing mine. How about you?