Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Novel Research Interview with J.A. Schneider

Interviews with writers for the Novel Research project ("novel" meaning interesting, different, unusual,) focus on a variety of research topics, whether for a book, an essay, blog post, or the gathering of family genealogy records. In April, 2021, I posted 26 short articles about topics researched over the years for mystery novels, poetry, and genealogical records (which culminated in a historical novel.) Eager to learn of wider ranging research experiences, I have invited other writers to participate in the project by sharing information about their "novel" research topics.


Gail: Today's guest, author J.A. Schneider, is a prolific writer with much research under her belt. I have asked Joyce to first share her bio, including one new or previously undisclosed detail about herself.

Joyce: Thanks so much for inviting me! I am honored to participate. I’m a former writer at

Newsweek who grew up with a passion for books and reading. I’ve written 14 books so far: the 6-book EMBRYO medical thriller series, the 4-book police/psychological thrillers featuring NYPD Detective Kerri Blasco, and the standalone thrillers Into the Dark, Girl Watching You, What You’ve Done, and the just-released Cry to Me.

What led me to writing for Newsweek was previous – and sometimes wild – experience studying in Paris at the Sorbonne, then being an exchange student in the Soviet Union where I promptly got arrested for spreading anti-Soviet propaganda - ha! Caught with friends laughing at their pea-green-colored drinking water; that was the offense; four of us arrested. Let go after a day, guess they decided we weren't worth an international incident. Then weeks later I landed in a Soviet hospital because I fell down a ravine during a hike in the Caucasus mountains near Sochi. It wasn't bad. Docs in Sochi were nice, but I think the Soviets were glad to see me leave.

Now things are calmer, if you call writing suspense thrillers calmer. When not writing I’m usually thinking about writing and dreaming up new stories, and can rarely be seen without my trusty laptop. I live with my family in Connecticut, love gardening, and am working on my WIP which will be a departure, still a romantic suspense crime thriller, but a surprise.

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Gail: Your early experiences have me wavering between cautious laughter and fright. Knowing that research practices evolve over the years, what is your go-to method now?    

Joyce: I use the Internet a LOT for research, definitely during the first draft. Saves time.

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Gail: And what "novel" research topic have you chosen for today?

Joyce: A hurricane! I wrote CRY TO ME ( by battery lamp in a hurricane, about scared people using battery lamps in a hurricane. The raging wind outside - wowza - affected the intensity of the story. Add a bloodied crime scene and a cold case to the howling storm, the fear of trees falling outside, and that beats any “research” I’ve ever done for a novel.

Photo by author

The hurricane was Isaias, which hit Florida in late August of 2020 and plowed its way up to our Connecticut Coast (whole swaths of woods knocked down; roofs plowed in; cars under water, highways washed out. It was something.)

What’s crazy is, I had planned this novel before I knew a hurricane was coming! It was a coincidence. It’s what informed my first draft, anyway. Subsequent drafts were aided by the months-long sound of chain saws fixing destruction all around our town.

That experience beat any research I’ve ever done. Whew, when I think of it!!

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You can visit Joyce at her social media site: 

And check out her books on her Amazon page:


Isaias swept through Connecticut, causing crippling damage as it uprooted trees, severed power lines, and littered roads with water-soaked debris, leaving more than 700,000 residents without power.

What effects of a hurricane have you experienced?

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Monday, June 7, 2021

Book Review: Cry To Me by J.A. Schneider

Welcome to Book Review Monday. According to an encouraging adage for writers, “Successful writing includes the side component of reading.” As testament to this adage, reading keeps me grounded, informed, aware, and alive. Novels entertain me. News reports and essays tie me to a teeming, ever-growing and changing society of ideas. Non-fiction stimulates my mind, allowing me to transform my own thoughts into written words. 

The list of books I’ve read and reviewed over the past year isn’t genre-specific, only slightly tilted toward suspenseful mysteries. But to my way of thinking, every story contains a mystery, with suspense of one sort or another to hold the reader’s interest. Mixed genres work well to satisfy the desires of multiple preferences. 

On the topic of mixed genres, if you are looking for an entertaining novel filled with suspense, thrills, and a touch of romance to read this week, look no further than: 

“CRY TO ME: An Intense Romantic Suspense Thriller” by J.A. Schneider

“Cry To Me” is one of Joyce’s best novels, which says a lot because her entire Embryo series kept me well-entertained as she pumped them out over the years.

In her latest stand-alone novel, "Cry To Me", the story’s main character and narrator Kim attends a celebration of her sister and brother-in-law’s renovated mansion. Loud music, business connections interested only in making money or getting revenge, and an exposed affair all lend suspicion when the host is found dead and the hostess clings to life after both are shot by an unknown assailant.  

A hurricane is brewing, moving closer each day as police attempt to clear the  investigation. They quickly assume murder and attempted suicide. But Kim  refuses to accept that her sister shot her husband and then tried to kill herself. As a crime fiction writer, Kim proceeds to use her detecting skills to dig up evidence proving her sister’s innocence. But as the storm builds, threatening imminent power outages and severed satellite service, the narrowing list of possible suspects has Kim, and the reader, wavering over who is the true killer. 

Simmering tension and character development held my attention throughout the plotline’s steady escalation. The local book club selection for May, “And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie, is described by many as the best mystery ever written. For thrills and accuracy, I would say “Cry To Me is comparable.


Upcoming post - Wednesday June 9: “Novel Research” interview with J.A. Schneider. Get to know more about the author whose novels are as addictive as Belgian chocolate truffles.


"Cry To Me" is available at - the kindle edition on sale now for 99cents.