Thursday, September 27, 2012

Where Do Ideas Come From?

Interesting cemetery off a back road on Maui
that could conjure up an anthology of ideas.
The question most asked of writers is: “Where do you get your ideas?” 

Some authors say it is the most difficult interview question because they don’t have a satisfactory answer. During the course of the day, an idea pops up and a kernel of a story sprouts. Whatever triggered that idea is the source, or the WHERE. But the thought may be too fleeting for the conscious mind to grasp, and it is only the residual grain of sand left behind that begins to develop into a pearl. 

Triggers can be a song, a painting, an ocean breeze, the shape of a face, a 140-character tweet, a friend’s facebook post, or even the scent of a grilled cheese sandwich, chicken soup, or a root beer float. 

Once the idea begins to form, it is the fertile mind of a dedicated writer that designs, shapes, and accessorizes the story from opening line to climax and denouement. 

Ideas are a dime-a-dozen. Good ideas are worth a bit more. Maybe a better way to answer the question would be for the writer to tell what they do with the inspiration generated by an idea and how the author molds a seed of an idea into an intriguing story. 

Here is a blog post by author Kaye George giving her take on where ideas come from. Kaye George @KGeorgeMystery

Sunday, September 23, 2012

FAST FIVE Author Interview with Cheryl Linn Martin

Today’s guest is Cheryl Linn Martin. When I read the title of Cheryl’s first novel, Pineapples in Peril, my assumption that she must have ties to Hawaii was correct. “Do you recall what it was like to be 10-16 years old? What kinds of things made you excited, angry, challenged or confused? How did you relate to siblings and parents?” These are the questions Cheryl Linn Martin considers when developing characters for her middle reader mystery series, The Hawaiian Island Detective Club.

FAST FIVE: Welcome and thank you for taking time to share your writing background with us today, Cheryl. You have mapped out a trilogy of mysteries for The Hawaiian Island Detective Club. What inspired you to write stories set in Hawaii and what is the first novel in the series, Pineapples in Peril, about?

CHERYL LINN MARTIN: I have always loved Hawaii ever since I lived there while attending The University of Hawaii. I combined that with my interest in writing for ages 8-12 years and The Hawaiian Island Detective Club was born!

The three books in this series are entitled Pineapples in Peril, Menehunes Missing, and Ukuleles Undercover.
(Menehunes Missing has a tentative release date of February 5, 2013.
Ukuleles Undercover will probably be out in the summer or early fall of 2013.)

In Pineapples in Peril, Leilani Akamai and her two best friends, Maile and Sam decide to investigate the vandalism taking place in the pineapple fields near their homes. They’ve been The Hawaiian Island Detective Club for years, solving pretend mysteries. This is their chance to solve a real one. Unless, of course, Kimo, Leilani’s annoying ten-year-old brother ruins everything. And then there’s Maile’s 16-year-old brother who’s the love of Leilani’s life.

Ahh . . . the angst of adolescence!

FAST FIVE: Love your alliterative titles! Aside from the perils of prickly pineapples and missing mischievous menehunes, did you have other interesting experiences while living in Hawaii?

CHERYL LINN MARTIN: Yes, I did! I learned to surf, got scared by a pipefish while snorkeling (thought it was an eel!), nearly lost my suit while body surfing, ate every kind of island food I could—including poi, took hula classes, and performed at my dorm’s luau. I loved every moment of island life!

FAST FIVE: Body surfing, learning hula, eating poi - you were a true kama’aina living in Hawaii. Do you follow any specific writing process to complete the first draft of your novels and do you know at the beginning of the mystery who will be the culprit?

CHERYL LINN MARTIN: When I’m writing a new book, I mark my calendar for ten weeks of 5,000 words each week and dedicate several hours each weekday to reach that goal. I do any catch-up word count necessary over the weekends. My books are all around 50,000 words! I do very little editing when I’m in the “writing mode!”

I’m not a “plotter” so I don’t usually know at the beginning who will be the culprit, but I do need to know what the mystery is and also something about where I’m going. The in-between can take many unusual turns before the real culprit is revealed.

FAST FIVE: Which character in Pineapples in Peril is most like you, and why?

CHERYL LINN MARTIN: Probably Leilani. She is determined, yet in many ways has issues with her confidence. She also finds herself in trouble a lot, even though it always seems to be her brother’s fault.  

Leilani learns some wonderful things about her annoying younger brother. But then there’s reality—Kimo will always be her pain-in-the-pants younger brother! So, every book in the series has the wonderful moments involving family and siblings, along with the frustrating times. Kind of like real life, huh?

Yup, I have a younger brother!

FAST FIVE: What motivates you to write and what habits have you developed that would be beneficial to new writers?

CHERYL LINN MARTIN: Striving to do what God has placed in front of me motivates me to keep pressing forward. Sharing wholesome mysteries filled with fun, humor, mishaps and unexpected moments for kids to enjoy also motivates me to continue this amazing journey.

For new writers, if you are goal oriented try setting a reasonable word count goal that allows for you to get ahead at times and gives you make-up time as well. Also, set aside that time to simply sit down and write—don’t go to any e-mails, facebook pages, etc. It’s all about planting yourself in front of that computer and pounding out the words!

FAST FIVE: This last isn’t so much a question as riding a wave from the professional world of writing to your personal life. Please share a little about your family and what you do for fun and relaxation when you’re not writing.

CHERYL LINN MARTIN: I have a great husband, three amazing kids and Lilly, a Persian cat who’s definitely “The Queen.”

My oldest son, Ian, has his own home and works for Nautilus. My daughter, Ashley, is married to a wonderful man, Dave. She works for Portland State University and he is a lawyer for a Portland, Oregon firm. My youngest son, Shane, wants to be an artist for a Graphic Novel company. He’s busy working on projects and sending them off—not unlike being an author!

I love to grow veggies, and blueberries and raspberries on my deck. I also love to sing, and am part of my church’s drama team—challenging, yet rewarding. I swim with my son and do push-ups with the Oregon Duck (the U of O mascot) whenever Oregon scores—and, yes, they’re men’s push-ups! I’m practicing for this fall!

I worked for Portland Parks and Recreation for 31 years and still like to work with kids today! A week of church VBS is totally draining!

Where readers can connect with CHERYL LINN MARTIN:

Website address is

Blog site all about Hawaii at

Facebook author page at 

If “tweeters” would like to comment on The Hawaiian Island Detective Club, they can add the hashtag: #HIDC

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Reviews: Proof Required When Told What to Think

Reading books and writing reviews are fun for me. My reviews are not, by any stretch of the imagination, professionally rendered. Like this blog post, all reflect my opinions about a book I enjoyed reading. If the story has merit and the author’s writing style appeals to me, I will submit a review with a five- or four star rating.

The following may deserve a “Get A Life” response: I love to read book reviews. Now that Amazon has made it so convenient to access reviews, I take pleasure in reading them. I don’t read all the reviews, mostly those with one- and two-stars because those are the most entertaining. What prompted me to write this article today is one review in particular I just read - for a novel I will not name. My comments are not directed at the author’s writing (that is not my point here) but at the reviewer’s remarks. More accurately, they address one remark in particular.

First, let me say that the novel in question received numerous four- and five-star reviews (deserved or undeserved - again not my point.) Second, the one- and two-star reviews often reveal more about the reviewer than the novel being reviewed. The one-star review remark that energized me to write about it? This: 

“I’ve downloaded a hundred books and never bothered to write a review but I HAD to for this one.” 

This one remark seems to encapsulate what so many authors are tweeting and facebooking and linkeding and pinteresting about. It drew my attention NOT BECAUSE this particular person did not like the novel and wrote a one-star review but BECAUSE this particular person read (or at least downloaded) ninety-nine other books and “never bothered to write a review” for any one of those books that offered pleasant reading or compelling thought for that reader. 

Voracious readers and book bloggers cannot write a review for every book they write. That is why they choose to write reviews for the books they do like. It is also fair to write an honest one-star review. But only writing a review when a novel so enrages the reader that it becomes a moral obligation to tell the world of the outrage? Wouldn’t that hurt the reader more than the author or the novel being reviewed? 

Unless there are thousands of people out there like me who leaf through page after page of good reviews looking for the more entertaining comments, then the main benefit of writing a one-star review is for the reviewer to vent an emotional reaction to a story the reader found lacking. But how does that affect the sale of the book? The following BEST-SELLER books (none the focus of this post) received numerous one- and two-star reviews: 
The Hunger Games - 8875 reviews - #11 Paid in Kindle Store; (overall 4.5-star rating)
No Easy Day - 478 reviews - #4 Paid in Kindle Store; (overall 4-star rating)
Twilight Book 1 - 5465 reviews - #834 Paid in Kindle Store; (overall 4-star rating)
Fifty Shades of Grey - 12,256 reviews - #2 Paid in Kindle Store; (overall 3-star rating) 

On the highway, a vehicle accident draws stares, cars slow and people gawk. When the traffic officer tells drivers, “Move on, there is nothing worth seeing here,” that only makes people look harder. After all, it is human nature to require proof of statements that tell us what to think or do. This same principle applies to one-star reviews. The reaction is “How can a novel be THAT BAD?” or “If this novel so incited the reviewer, I’ve got to check it out for myself.” 

Good or bad, Word of Mouth and Reviews sell books.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

FAST FIVE Author Interview with Gene Parola

In the Sisters in Crime/Hawaii spotlight today is my guest, Gene Parola. He is a retired Professor of cultural history at Indiana University and University of Michigan-Flint; the Ministry of Defense Saudi Arabia and Koc University in Istanbul, Turkey. Gene lives in Hawaii and is a member of our writers’ group in Honolulu. He is the author of several books, including Lehua, his newest novel which he will discuss today. 
GAIL: Thank you for joining us today, Gene, for a FAST FIVE author interview. Your novel, Lehua, is a fascinating story set in Hawaii. Can you please share with us the background story and the responsibility your protagonist Lehua assumes in her life?
GENE PAROLA: The Lehua of the title is a young ali’i wahine coming of age just when her Queen destroys the thousand year old Hawaiian religion. This happens six months before the arrival of the first Calvinist missionaries, but is in response to powerful ali’i who have already converted to Christianity.
As in many ancient cultures, its history, mores, and social systems are bound up with its religious values and practices.
The ali’i, knowing that they must stay on the ‘right’ side of the emerging new monarchy, conform quite readily. The kahuna class, the most threatened in the new order, immediately find shelter in the retinue of powerful chiefs who have already converted or intend to.
In Lehua’s case, she is conflicted because she sees some of the advantages of the changes to result from this cultural shift.  At the same time, she is intelligent enough--and insightful enough, to recognize the agonizing negative effects on the behavior of the ignorant common people.
Lehua takes as her kuleana (responsibility) the guiding of the maka’ainana (commoners) down the narrow path between pono (righteousness) and the preachers. That is, maintaining the values of the old system while incorporating the new. It will be a tough job, as we see in book two, because the ‘long necks’ are bent on destroying every aspect of the ‘old’ savagery.
Because Lehua is ali’i, it is her unspoken, unquestioned duty to lead her people. It is especially important now, when large numbers of ali’i are abandoning that responsibility as their own sacred reason-to-be is questioned.
GAIL: The Mystery/Suspense genre is the focus of Fast Five interviews, but what unique twist makes your novel stand out?
GENE PAROLA: In a coming of age novel, as in a Mystery/Suspense novel, the compelling question is what will happen to the character, and can and how will she survive. Lehua’s task is a fictious one, but set against the historic failure of the ali’i to successfully resist the onslaught of both Christianity and external commercial forces that would result--80 years later--in the take over of Hawai’i by the U.S.
Historically there were a few attempts to confront the twelve shiploads of missionaries that arrived in successive waves. The first, and most well known, was Chief Kekuaokalani’s failed military attempt a short time after the ‘lifting of the kapu’ in 1819. All the rest were subrosa and were finally submerged in the duality of day-time Christianity and night time nativism. These latter efforts were finally defeated by the death of a generation and the unrelenting, pressure of the invaders. Except in the smallest and remotest enclaves.
In book two we see Lehua lay the ground work for one of those clandestine  movements as she builds confidence among the chiefs and kahuna on Molokai. All the while, raising children on an early ranch, assimilating her paniolo husband’s half-Chinese culture, and conflicted as she is drawn inexonerably back into the questionable practices of the old religion that she thought she had turned her back on.
GAIL: How does your main character’s profession draw her into suspenseful situations?
GENE PAROLA: In Lehua’s case it is the constant confrontations with other members of her ohana (particularly her brother, whom she loves dearly), who are often as conflicted as she, but who yield gradually to her much larger world picture and the teaching of many religions, which she is introduced to by her Chinese in-laws.
GAIL: Is this book part of a series, and are you working on a sequel?
GENE PAROLA: Yes. This is the first of a trilogy that will follow Lehua as she confronts all of the outside influences that impact Hawai’i until she dies at the age of 80 as a kokua on the Hansons Disease Settlement on Molokai.
GAIL: You have whet our appetites for the novel, Lehua, and given us good reason to read the full story. This next 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?
GENE PAROLA: I seem to be able to work anywhere where the spirit moves me. Recently on vacation I sketched out a new mystery and wrote the first chapter in longhand while my wife and grand daughter transposed sheet music into guitar chords.
However, there is one place I’d like to try out. It’s in China near one of the tourist entrances to the Great Wall. A sidewalk sign with an arrow up hill announces accommodations at the End of the Universe inn. 
Where readers can follow GENE PAROLA:

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

'Celebrating Bloggers' Blog Hop Sept 10-13, 2012

Celebrating Bloggers blog hop

Terri Giuliano Long is celebrating bloggers through this huge event during September, 2012.   Everyone who shares the event will be able to enter a draw to win a $50 Amazon gift card plus $50 for their chosen charity! (See entry form at bottom of post.)

First, I want to thank Terri for holding this Blog Hop to celebrate bloggers. Everyone, be sure to follow Terri on her blog:  and on Twitter: @tglong

In November of 2010, I started my blog, an eclectic blend of topics focused on Mystery, both reading and writing. As a lifetime reader of the Mystery genre, and all sub-genres, including Cozy, Traditional Mystery, Police Procedural, Thriller, Suspense, Hard Core Detective, and what I call (and write) Soft Core Sleuth, I am never at a loss for reading material. It would be nice to say the same about time, but that often escapes me. 

In e-Book and p-Book

When I published my first Pepper Bibeau Mystery, fifteen book bloggers either invited me to guest blog, hosted me for an author interview, or read and reviewed the novel on their site. Since then, I have paid their generosity forward with interviews on my blog site. 

As of January 2012, I interview authors with my FAST FIVE Author Interview: 5-questions-plus-1 that give the author free rein to promote their latest novel or WIP-work in progress. The focus is on indie/self-published authors whose protagonist is a strong female character (open to interpretation with that in mind.) 

Though I don’t present book reviews on my blog site, I do submit reviews to Amazon and Goodreads where my blog posts appear regularly.

e-Book format on Kindle
As a member of Sisters in Crime National and President of Sisters in Crime/Hawaii, and as author of The Pepper Bibeau Mystery Series (first and second novels in series self-published; the third my newest WIP,) my days are filled with thoughts of mystery, suspense, and murder. My night time is filled with dreams of same!

In my opinion, blogging requires the same quality of research as writing a novel. People who read blog posts expect the material to have a basis in fact, fantasy blogs included. Even personal opinion bloggers present material based on research, whether the material was found in a library, read in a newspaper or book, or gathered during an exchange of ideas with a neighbor over the backyard fence at sunset. 

Speaking of sunset, I manage to slip in a personal haiku and photograph every so often to share my pleasure of living in Hawaii. A variation of the traditional Japanese Haiku is my own haiku of Hawaii, where the blend of seasons and changes in weather are more aptly demonstrated by shifts in wind: cool, refreshing Tradewinds from the East and hot Kona winds from the south; or by modifications in rainfall and threats of impending tsunami; and sunshine. 

Black feathery fronds
Tickle gold-washed Waikiki
Watchers line the beach" rel="nofollow">a Rafflecopter giveaway




Friday, September 7, 2012

FAST FIVE Author Interview with Kevin Dorvial

Today’s guest is author Kevin Dorvial. In 1999, he began his college education at the University of South Dakota where he also ran for the school’s track team. A year later, he attended Florida Atlantic University and graduated in 2005 with a major in political science and a minor in marketing. Kevin wanted to major in history so he could educate students about their cultures as a teacher, however he knew his prior criminal record would hinder him from getting hired, therefore he left it as an unpursued passion. 

Kevin Dorival is a mentor and a role model to young adults in need of guidance at the Knights of Pathagoras Mentoring Network in Delray, Florida. He is also the author of the book, The Courage To Believe. 

GAIL: Welcome, Kevin. Thank you for visiting today for this interview. What do you mean when you say, “You lost your innocence before you lost your virginity?” 

KEVIN DORVIAL: When I was about 14 years old my mom was brutally attacked by an ex-boyfriend that constantly stalked us. I was still a virgin but I felt as if I was a man from then on. It was time to protect my family by any means. In my book I go into greater detail of the drama that surrounded that dark night.
GAIL: Your biggest challenge was graduating from college. Why was it so difficult? 

KEVIN DORVIAL : I was in and out of jail due to the fact that I was on probation. Any infraction with the law or affiliation with those that are considered outlaws (law breakers) was an automatic violation of probation. I was literally, in jail during quizzes and tests. 

GAIL: What would you like for teens and young adults to get from your book, "The Courage To Believe?" 

KEVIN DORVIAL: You can alter your future. I want teens and adults to know that it doesn’t matter what it looks like or the mistakes that they’ve made in the past. The choice is yours. You can be in an institution of education or institution of prison. Which one would you prefer? I loved good food, family, and my loyal friends too much to be behind those walls. I thank God that I can take the time to write this book in order to be a testimony to those that are lost. 

GAIL: I hear you're big on history. Why didn’t you major in history?                            

KEVIN DORVIAL: You heard right, lol. I love history and it was my favorite subject throughout my schooling. It’s like wine to me, the older the subject the better but no, I didn’t major in history in the school system but I constantly read the ancient history of my ancestors from Africa to Haiti, and even here in America. My fascination of the past began with the adventures and mysteries of the Egyptians. The internal war between Cleopatra and her siblings over the power of the throne always seems to get me on the edge of my seat.
Learning at an early age that my ancestors were queens and kings made me proud. Teaching kids their history will make them proud of themselves. Most importantly, find their identity.
GAIL: You ended up in jail at the age of 22. What made you get involved in the street life?
KEVIN DORVIAL: I had minor run ins with the law as a juvenile. For the most part I walked a straight line. At the age of about 21, life was like a hurricane, lost focus for a moment and eventually moved out on my own. After constantly getting the short end of the stick in life I ended up needing a substantial amount of money at that time. My roommate moved out without a warning, and my job was barely enough to survive on. I started hanging around the wrong group of friends that broke laws for a living. They had an idea to make some quick cash. (Quick cash usually always means quick ticket to jail.) Being in a desperate situation, I went and….can’t tell you that part. Not yet. 

GAIL: Our teens have so many negative influences in their lives. What would you say is the solution to this epidemic? 

KEVIN DORVIAL: Teens are in a age of technology. They are born into it and the technology is constantly evolving rapidly. With the iPads, iPhones, Androids, Violent video games, lack of positive family morals leads to our children being raised by mega bytes and servers. Now, T.V. is filled with adult reality shows, profanity and nudity, all of which is distraction.

The only way is to turn away from the technology and do some soul searching in a quiet place. I am a spiritual warrior and believe in putting time aside, of my productive or like most of call it “busy life,” to pray. To meditate. To put things in perspective. Every day I am alive is a blessing. My biggest attribute was the fact that I was able to see myself as someone important - a king and not a pauper. The trick is to speak positive ideas and goals into your life by simply saying the words. If you want to be a millionaire, than say it everyday. If you want to purchase a yacht, then say it. You want to end world hunger, then say it each and every day.

Our teens need to find their identity. They must be able to see that they are royalty, someone of significance. Parents needs to play a bigger part in letting teaching their kids about their history. Let them know who they are or the media and video games will.

GAIL: You love your country Haiti even though you’ve never been there. What would you do differently if you ran the country or if you were the president of Haiti? 

KEVIN DORVIAL: The education system would be the first thing that’ll address. Education would be free for every child. I will keep the only good christian soldiers that are not corrupted. The rest of the police, army, and politician will be forced out the country will be exiled. If there is evidence of their crimes then they’ll be arrested and brought to trial. I will hire hand picked experts from around the world in every industry that are committed to see our country prosper. 

Those billion dollars of gold, silver, copper, and natural minerals those foreign companies found in April of this year of 2012, in Haiti would remain there. The countries that found the treasure will get a few million as a finder’s fee. It will be very interesting to see how the current presidency will handle the new assets. 

GAIL: How were you able to overcome the traps of the ghetto that swallowed so many of your family and friends? 

KEVIN DORVIAL: It was the grace of God. I was able to think about my future on a regular basis; therefore attracted a better tomorrow. I’ve watched people get drowned by their present situation. My mother made sure that we, my four siblings and me, had our heads in the books daily, especially, the bible. Always felt like my life had purpose, an aura of royalty. My community’s tradition of falling under drama forced me to want more out of life for my own family. Moving forward, and not wanting to make excuses were two motivators. 

My youngest brother is currently serving a life sentence and a few of my friends are serving three to sixty years in prison. We are losing our men. Our fathers. Our stones of the family foundation. 

I made many mistakes but now everything I do has to be a touchdown or first down! No more fumbles in life. No more dropping the ball. 

This is a link to Kevin Dorvial’s press kit: