Thursday, May 24, 2012

Sisters-in-Crime Spotlight: Author Patricia L. Morin

Patricia L. Morin
Today’s spotlight is on author Patricia L. Morin. Besides writing short stories, novels, and plays, she is a psychotherapist and life coach with a Masters in both Counseling Psychology and Clinical Social Work. The inner complexities of the human mind play a strong part in her writing work. She has won awards for her short stories and has been published in numerous anthologies. Top Publications Ltd., Dallas TX, published her first short-story collection, Mystery Montage, in 2010.

GAIL: Welcome, Pat, and thank you for taking time to visit today. Your first short story collection was published in 2010. Is it correct that a play you wrote was selected as one of the finalists for a playwright contest?

PAT: Yes. I am very excited to pass along some great news. My play, The Gatekeeper, won First Place and Critics Choice at the 2012 Fringe of Marin, CA, Playwright Contest. The play also won for Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Actress. The Gatekeeper is a twenty-minute humor-fantasy that revolves around the cemetery of buried emotions.

GAIL: That is exciting news. Congratulations on your success as an author and a playwright. You lived in Honolulu, Hawaii for six years before moving back to the mainland. How did you choose your new location?

PAT: Instead of returning to our old neighborhood in Grand View, New York, my husband, Larry, and I have settled into the warmth of California. We live in San Francisco with our Lab/Australian Cattle dog mix, Tayya, and two Betta fish, Danka and Shane. I was a psychotherapist near Nyack, New York, for twenty-six years, with a Masters in Counseling Psychology and in Social Work (New York-board certified). Larry was a Senior Vice President for Fidelity Investments on Wall Street. We loved the people and the seasons, although we had a difficult time with the cold.

GAIL: Before moving to Honolulu, I lived in Minnesota and Wisconsin where winters are described as “frozen tundra.” I agree that warm is easier on the bones. Can you tell us about another selection of short stories you completed after moving to California?

Crime Montage by
Patricia L. Morin 
PAT: I'm pleased to announce that Top Publications Ltd. released Crime Montage in March 2012. This is the second in my short-story series and includes: cozy, humorous, chick-lit, young-adult fantasy, paranormal, and a historical novella.

Crime Montage can be purchased through your local independent bookseller or

For more information, feel free to visit me at Thank you.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Procrastination Means Never Having to Say "I'm Early"

New Year's Fireworks at
Magic Island, Honolulu

Happy New Year to you, and best wishes for a happy and healthy 2012. (As you can see, putting an end to procrastination is not one of my resolutions for this year.)

2011 was an exciting year for me. I turned an ambitious goal into a reality when I published my first novel. Each New Year's Day offers the possibility of exciting new experiences, and opportunities for accomplishments once only imagined. My writing transported me from the isolated existence of creating a suspenseful story to the world of publishing and marketing the novel.

The extended process reinforced an important adage, that successful writing includes the side component of reading. In a recent interview, one (to remain unnamed) author disagreed with the importance of reading. He (my arbitrary choice of pronoun) stated it wasn’t necessarily time well-spent to read when he could be using that time to write.

In my experience though, reading keeps me grounded, informed, aware, and alive. Novels entertain me. Newspaper articles 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.

2012 is a bright new canvas, its blank face offering a tantalizing challenge. This year, my updated ‘Resolution List’ has all the usual suspects: lose weight, exercise more, eat well, smile often, and enjoy life. At the top of the list are my main goals for the year ahead: polish and publish Book #2 in the Pepper Bibeau mystery series; continue marketing my novels; and start writing the next one. While working on these goals, I intend to smile . . . often.
What is at the top of your list?

Monday, May 14, 2012


Author Alison Bruce
Please welcome today’s guest, Alison Bruce. Her latest novel, Deadly Legacy, is a fast-moving detective novel set in the near future. Today, Alison gives us an inside view of her research process for Deadly Legacy, along with a taste of the future she created for its characters.

FAST FIVE: Rather than the 140 characters we’ve grown accustomed to on Twitter, can you share with us a more detailed account of the novel and your research for Deadly Legacy?

ALISON BRUCE: The main characters came to me in a dream. Police detective turned private investigator Kate Garrett, soldier turned PI Jake Carmedy and Chief of Detectives Igor Thorsen played out a scene that I may still use in a future book. I wrote several story fragments developing their characters and adding several others, but mostly Carmedy and Garrett stayed on the back burner.

In 1995, I published, with two other partners, Women's Work: A Dayplanner and Resource for Guelph Women. I interviewed twelve women who had achieved success on their own terms. Our then police chief, Lenna Bradburn, was one of those women. We discussed the future of policing and it gave me ideas. Previously, my interest in the future was a couple of centuries ahead, specifically the 23rd Century of the Star Trek universe. Now I looked at real life projections for the next few decades and I started building the world where Carmedy and Garrett lived.

Life pushed Carmedy and Garrett onto the back burner again. My daughter was born. Even though we were a one-publication publishing company, Women's Work was never done. By the time one edition was complete, it was time to start the next. My mother, sister and father were all diagnosed with various forms of cancer within a month. My mother died within the year. My sister needed care on and off until she died in 2003. My father recovered from the cancer but had a stroke and multiple heart attacks. Then I was in a car accident.

I was strapped to a backboard (which turned out to be unnecessary thank heavens) giving my report to a pleasant looking OPP officer. After he had asked me all his questions, he inquired if there was anything I wanted to know. "Yes," I said. "Can you put me in contact with someone I could interview about police work for a book I'm writing?"

He gave me a contact -- who was amazing. He not only filled in a lot of gaps, he questioned some basic assumptions I had made about Carmedy and Garrett. In my future, private investigators can acquire further licensing to work with the police as consulting detectives. He couldn't see that happening, or if it did, most cops would hate it. I hadn't considered that aspect of police culture.

A retired police detective who does consult for police services, gave me a way to reconcile the problem. Setting my story in the future, albeit the near future, also helped. Like any SF author, I'm not saying my projection of the future WILL come to pass, but if it did, this is how it would look.

FAST FIVE: Alison, in describing your research process, you illustrate the important role that writing plays in your life. For your protagonist, is “the job” the most important part of her life?

ALISON BRUCE: Kate Garrett was brought up to be a detective. Her family tree is littered with police officers. Her father, Joe Garrett, was a great cop who became a respected private investigator and consulting detective. He gave her crime puzzles to solve and made her a financial partner in his business. Kate followed in her father's footsteps and has just made detective when her father dies. She feels that she is obligated to take her father's place in his business. Joe's legacy is Kate's burden.

FAST FIVE: The Mystery/Suspense genre is the focus of Fast Five interviews, but what unique twist makes your novel stand out?

ALISON BRUCE: The near-future setting is one of the unique aspects of Deadly Legacy. It's the Dirty Thirties projected forward. The City is surrounded by shantytowns built out of the refuse of our disposable economy. CSI-like forensic labs are a reality. Swing-era styles are the latest retro-chic and abayas and veils are commonly worn on the streets, regardless of religion, as protection from UV radiation.

FAST FIVE: How does your main character’s profession draw her into suspenseful situations, (murder, for instance?)

ALISON BRUCE: Kate is a violent crimes detective at the opening of the book. The apparently accidental death of her father pulls her into a second - then third - case of murder.

Jake was investigating an arson case for the first murder victim. He is brought into the police case as a consultant. Because Igor Thorsen and Joe Garrett were best friends, Garrett Investigations has a good relationship with the police.

FAST FIVE: Is this book part of a series, and are you working on a sequel?

ALISON BRUCE: The second book in the series in underway and a third is plotted out. Although the murders are solved at the end of Deadly Legacy, Kate still has major decisions to make about her career and her new business partner, Jake Carmedy.

FAST FIVE: Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to visit today, Alison. This last isn't a Fast Five question, more an “if/then” scenario: If Paris is not an option, then where would you most like to spend your time writing and why.

ALISON BRUCE: Give me a laptop, a cafe table near an electrical outlet, and a caffeinated beverage and I'm happy. Put that table under an umbrella on a patio overlooking a large body of water, and I'm in heaven.

For more information about Deadly Legacy and Alison Bruce, please visit these links:

Amazon Kindle edition of Deadly Legacy:

Twitter: @alisonebruce
Under A Texas Star is available at

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Sisters in Crime Interview with Wendy Maxwell

Wendy Maxwell
at the Circulation Desk of
The Makiki Community Library
Sisters in Crime/Hawaii Chapter meets on the third Wednesday of each month at Makiki Library on Keeaumoku Street in Honolulu, Hawaii. Wendy Maxwell, a member of Sisters in Crime Hawaii, is the Makiki Library Librarian.

GAIL: Wendy, thank you for appearing in the spotlight today for a SinC/Hawaii interview. You are currently working for The Makiki Community Library. What experience or education led you to a position as a librarian?

WENDY: I have a masters degree from UH Manoa in Library and Information Science LISc. The "information" portion consists mainly of using the internet for research purposes.

GAIL: Have you worked for a library system other than Makiki Library?

WENDY: After graduation, I worked for a semester at Kamehameha Middle School Library and at Iolani Upper School Library. Then I landed a job with Mid-Pacific Institute. I was there for 4 years while my youngest son was a student there. I continue to return to MPI when they need extra help and for their annual Scholastic Book Fair. My work with MCL is entirely in a voluntary capacity. I am currently President of the Friends of Makiki Community Library and the Librarian.

The Makiki Community Library

GAIL: Have you assisted other libraries outside of Hawaii with setting up their programs?

WENDY: In 1999, I set up the library skills program at the College of the Marshall Islands. I taught everything from alphabetizing the English language so that the students could use the reference materials, to how to evaluate websites. I have given workshops at a library conference on Palau; I was hired to upgrade the school libraries in American Samoa and spent 3 weeks there.

GAIL: What improvements are you implementing at The Makiki Community Library and how are these changes funded?

WENDY: MCL was closed for renovation for about 4 years. During that time I got involved. With the addition of larger windows, the library is brighter. We have acquired new furniture from Booksellers, when that book store closed downtown a few years ago; the electrical has been completely upgraded and 4 new ceiling fans have been installed. We recently received a large donation to automate our library. With those funds we were able to purchase 5 Apple computers; library software; barcodes and scanners. We are currently working on data input for all of the books/media in the library. We hope to "launch" the new system on August 1st.

Wendy (right) with library co-workers

GAIL: During a Sisters in Crime, Inc. sponsored event “LIBRARIANS SOLVE MYSTERIES EVERY DAY”, I was able to “Shadow the Librarian” at MCL, and I learned how to scan those bar codes to enter newly acquired books into the system! Wendy, aside from work related programs, do you ever have an opportunity to travel?

WENDY: My husband, who is slowly working less with an eye on retirement, and I have become cruisers. In the Fall of 2011 we took a 6-week cruise from New York City, through the Panama Canal and around South America to end in Rio. This was our longest and 6th cruise. We are planning a 3-week cruise in May of 2012, from Tokyo to Vancouver, CA via the Aleutian Islands and the inside passage of Alaska.

Thank you, Wendy, for giving us some insight into the life of a librarian, far more interesting than one might imagine. Enjoy your latest cruise!

Red Hibiscus along Keeaumoku

Sunday, May 6, 2012

FAST FIVE Author Interview with Kate Fellowes

This week’s FAST FIVE Author Interview spotlights Kate Fellowes, author of the novel Thunder in the Night. I am a member of Sisters in Crime, Inc. (SinC) and Sisters in Crime Hawaii Chapter (SinC/Hawaii). Earlier this year, via Internet, I joined Kate’s Wisconsin chapter, WISinC. When Kate asked for “any mystery/suspense/romantic suspense authors among the group” willing to participate in the book launch of her latest novel, Thunder in the Night, I thought of Doc Holliday in the movie, Tombstone, when he said, “I’m your Huckleberry.” Kate graciously agreed to an interview. 

FAST FIVE: Welcome, Kate. Thank you for offering to give us a preview of your new novel, Thunder in the Night. Rather than the 140 characters we’ve grown accustomed to on Twitter, can you share with us a more detailed account of the novel and your research for Thunder in the Night?

KATE FELLOWES: Thunder in the Night is my fifth romantic suspense novel and it's a launch title for the new Crimson Romance ebook line, debuting June 4th.

My heroine is writer Allison Belsar. She's on a trip to Belize with a group of local zoo supporters. The tour is supposed to be an educational adventure, but almost immediately Allison can sense all is not as it seems. The zoo director and his assistant don't get along on nearly every level and it becomes obvious they are both keeping secrets. Of course, this is bait to Allison, who is eager to do stories with more substance than the chatty travel bit she's been assigned.

Mart, the assistant director, is more than willing to answer her questions--to a point. Over the course of those tropical nights, the attraction they feel for each other sparks and then flames. Allison finds herself hoping it will be more than just a holiday romance. When she suffers a fall in the ruins of Tikal and that very night her room is broken into, Mart takes her into his confidence. Her earlier hunch was on the money--something is very wrong on the zoo trek. But as things turn out, it isn't what either of them anticipate.

Intrigue follows them home and once they are back in the States, events escalate, culminating at the zoo's biggest fundraiser, the Mardi Gras ball. Working together, they unmask a killer and help break up a ring of criminals who prey on the most innocent of victims.

I love to read romantic suspense and am especially fond of those writers who represent, for me, the golden age of the genre: Phyllis Whitney, Barbara Michaels, Mary Stewart. One thing you find with their books is you always come away from the story having learned something. I love that, too. With my own work, this book and others, I like to sprinkle in a few facts or interesting tidbits that enhance the action of the story. This book, with so many environmental aspects, made that part--researching and sprinkling--even more fun.

I'm an information gatherer and I've worked in a library most of my adult life, so doing background research on Belize and Mayan ruins was all in a day's work. Now, with the internet making armchair travel so easy, I was able to virtually fly in a helicopter over the rainforest and ride a zipline through the jungle. Someone who read the novel asked me when I was there and I'd have to say that was on my lunch break a few months ago!

FAST FIVE: Your “visit” to Belize and the Mayan ruins is incentive for aspiring writers to dig deep when developing the setting for their characters. In Thunder in the Night, your protagonist is a writer for a local magazine involved with a group of local zoo supporters. Is “the job” the most important part of Allison’s life?

KATE FELLOWES: Allison's career is very important to her, even more so now, because she is coming off a bad marriage and has recently been a casualty of staff cuts at her previous position. Her father is her role model--his example and advice are touchstones for her. She is resilient, able to adapt to changes and meet challenges. She's smart and independent and unafraid.

Allison will look you in the eye and ask the uncomfortable question, then not look away until you answer it. She has a geniune curiosity about the world and a genuine sympathy for others. She doesn't put on any airs and graces, and that draws people to her. If you met her at a party, Allison would set you instantly at ease and you would feel as if you'd known her for years rather than minutes.

FAST FIVE: The Mystery/Suspense genre is the focus of Fast Five interviews, but what unique twist makes your novel stand out?

KATE FELLOWES: Thunder in the Night has a love story at its core, combining an exotic setting with adventure, intrigue and betrayal. The crime that drives the mystery, motivates the murder and ultimately draws Allison and Mart together is a global one but, once they fly home, it's taking place on a really local level. That's always a fascinating concept: what is going on in your own backyard, right under your nose, so to speak, and you don't even have a clue? Luckily, Allison and Mart do have the clues--and, of course, they have each other.

FAST FIVE: How does your main character’s profession draw her into suspenseful situations, (murder, for instance?)

KATE FELLOWES: Allison is now writing for a local magazine after being downsized from a big newspaper. Her goal is to be an investigative journalist, ferreting out injustice and abuses of power, so she's frustrated having to do this travel piece on the trip to Belize. As soon as she realizes there's trouble on the trek, her reporter instincts kick into high gear. I think wherever she goes, Allison will always be looking for the Real Story. In Belize, she definitely finds it!

FAST FIVE: Is Thunder in the Night part of a series, and are you working on a sequel?

KATE FELLOWES: This book is not part of a series, Allison and Mart will be happy, ever after! I'm currently shopping around a cozy mystery series (I have two titles written, so far) and am looking forward to beginning a new novel over the summer, which is always such a good time to write. But then, so is winter..... :)

FAST FIVE: Thank you for visiting today, Kate, and for the revealing look at your protagonist Allison. I look forward to the June 4th release date of Thunder in the Night and will keep an eye out for that Cozy Mystery series. This last is not a Fast Five question, more an “if/then” scenario: If Paris is not an option, then where would you most like to spend your time writing and why.

KATE FELLOWES: I have two favorite places to write. The first is under the apple trees in our backyard on a summer afternoon. That's one of my favorite places to read, too, so you can always find me there, deep in one book or the other!

The second place is in the stacks of the library at my alma mater, Alverno College. If I want to really concentrate on my writing and come away with good material, I hop in the car and go back to school. Up in the stacks, I'm totally undisturbed. No phones ringing, no chores beckoning, no time clock to keep an eye on. Because I studied there so much back in the day, I remember the library being a place to do real work, so that's what still happens! Hours pass and I'm always smiling as I leave because I've had another great day of writing. Even though I don't get there nearly as often as I'd like to, I always do make it a point to get there. Every one of my novels has been written, in large part or small, in the stacks at school.

Where to find Kate Fellowes on the Internet:!/katefellowes @katefellowes