Friday, July 9, 2010

Dead and Breakfast Anthology Interview

My guests today are Linda Houle, Betty Gordon, Cash Anthony, Gayle Wigglesworth, and Pauline Baird Jones, who have short stories published in the Dead and Breakfast anthology, published by Texas-based L&L Dreamspell.

Linda Houle is an author and the co-owner of L&L Dreamspell, a Texas-based independent publishing company. Her favorite part of the job is designing book covers. She also runs a small wildlife ranch, WESTWIND DREAMS, in the beautiful Texas Hill County.
Linda’s synopsis:

“The Legacy of Ledgemont Inn”: “While Fran is away at college she discovers she’s about to inherit the family B&B on her 21st birthday. Accompanied by her friend Justine, she returns to Ledgemont Inn hoping for a happy reunion with the father she hasn’t seen in years. The girls are in for a shock at the terrible condition of the estate and the frightening demeanor of the new staff—and then things go from bad to worse…”

Betty Gordon: Betty Gordon is a native Texan who delights in storytelling. She draws inspiration for her writing from all aspects life offers emphasizing psychological disorders of the criminal mind. While Betty uses her years in the legal arena for her mysteries that are sprinkled with romance, she also involves her extensive backgrounds in dance and sculpting for additional creations. An example of dance, “Veiled Deception,” is featured in the anthology.

Betty continues her studies with on-line workshops and conferences and memberships in The Final Twist Writers, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Writers’ League of Texas, Houston Writers’ Guild, and Bay Area Writers League.

Betty’s synopsis:

“Dead by Breakfast, An Enchanted Rose Mystery”: When Janie Pitts restored a dilapidated house located in Texas’ Hill Country, she inherited a Casper-like ghost, Henry. Henry is mischievous and fun, but he has friends who are not so friendly. Mrs. Banish, a ghost hunter, is called in to rid the B&B of the unwelcome visitors, but she disappears a short time later. The mystery deepens when a time-worn wedding ring and button from a Civil War uniform is found in the room occupied by the ghost hunter. Did Henry, his friends, or someone else do away with Mrs. Banish?

Betty’s “Veiled Deception, Choreography of a Crime” synopsis:

Zoe Macmillan, belly dancer and owner of a bed and breakfast in the Heights area of Houston, Texas, is preparing for an international dance convention. She supplies a common area of the lodging with a Doumbek (drum) and several swords for use by her guests. The bed and breakfast is robbed—these are the only items missing. Humor, romance, suspense, and Tarot cards lead to the capture of an individual hell-bent on killing Zoe Macmillan.

Pauline Baird Jones is the award-winning author of nine novels. Her latest releases are Girl Gone Nova and Out of Time (wide digital /limited print release). She's also written a steampunk novella called Tangled in Time that will release in 2010. She's written three non-fiction books. Pauline, give us a synop of your story.

"Do Wah Diddy Die Already":  Luci Seymour is out of the murder business and in the mom/wife/B&B business. Until the morning she sees a body in the new freezer. But when she goes to call in her homicide detective husband, she sees the dead guy walk in the front door. Not dead. Not even chilly... (The characters in this story are from the novel, Do Wah Diddy Die)

Elaine ( Cash) Anthony is a Houston writer, director, and producer. She’s the author of short stories, feature-length screenplays, adaptations, B&B murder mysteries and short films. Two of her efforts may be seen on the website for her company, The Master Strategy Group, at Though she no longer practices law actively, she is an A-V rate attorney and a former judicial candidate, and she served as a prosecutor for Harris County, TX. Cash lives in south-central Houston with her husband Tim Hogan, cats Sam and Cora, and Gypsy the husky. Her business/writing partner James R. Davis often assists with her mysteries.

The story in Dead and Breakfast, "The Stand-In", is the first in my Jessie Carr series. It’s autobiographical in part, like the others, as I’ve had some fascinating weekends at B&Bs. The more recent stories in the series are based on other experiences I’ve had while touring the U.S. on my motorcycle with my business partner, James Davis, or while practicing law for over a dozen years as a trial lawyer and consumer advocate.

Two more stories in the series have been published, and a fourth, called "Yes, She Bites", is due out this fall. In addition to the Jessie Carr stories, I write and adapt feature-length screenplays and short scripts. This year I’m also honored to be serving as president of The Final Twist, our writers group.

Gayle Wigglesworth is a retired bank executive who has always wanted to be a published author, so she took an early retirement to concentrate her efforts.  She joined the writing group, The Final Twist, very close to when it was first formed and appreciated all the help she received in learning to promote books. "When we decided we needed to develop our first anthology to help more of our members to get published and to build up some income for our group, I wanted to be a part of it so I had to come up with a story.

The idea for “I Love a Parade” came from a gutsy friend, who sold her business and house, put her worldly goods in storage and traveled the world for a couple years before deciding where she wanted to put down roots for the last part of her life. The plot was developed from a memory of a parade I witnessed in a small, picturesque town where I once stopped overnight at a bed and breakfast facility. All I had to do was start thinking ‘what if?’ and suddenly the story was there.

Do you write any other genres?

Linda: Mystery, Suspense, Romance, Erotica, Mainstream, Paranormal, and Non-Fiction.

Betty: Suspense, romantic/paranormal, and thriller

Pauline: Science fiction romance, Steampunk, action-adventure, suspense, romantic suspense and comedy-mystery—sometimes all at the same time. (grin)

Cash:  I write mystery, thriller, and adventure stories, and I have a medico-legal thriller novel in the works, called “A Week of Wednesdays”. Occasionally I’ve co-written weekend “murder mystery entertainments” for B&Bs.

Gayle:  I have written and published a cookbook with family stories. However, I love traditional mysteries, reading them, and writing them, so I concentrate my writing in that genre.

What books came along at just the right time to influence your reading/writing?

Linda: I grew up reading Nancy Drew mysteries. I also enjoy Agatha Christie’s stories.

Betty: When I originally focused on writing mysteries, Robert Crais’ books were recommended and read with enthusiasm. Not long after, Murder by the Book featured Crais during an author’s lunch which continued to fuel my growth. There were others, of course, Lee Child, Jonathan Kellerman, Lisa Gardner, Lisa Jackson, and many more..

Pauline: The “book” that came along was actually a movie: "The Moonspinners" with Haley Mills as star. I noticed that it was based on a book by Mary Stewart. I looked it up and was hooked for life. When I decided to write my first novel, my goal was to be as interesting as Mary Stewart.

Cash:  My reading varies between fiction in the genres I like to write in, and non-fiction which tends to support some story idea I’m researching. Favorite fiction authors these days are Jeffrey Deaver, Michael Connelly, Lee Childs, Laurie King, Anne Perry, Thomas Perry, and John Connelly, whose novel The Black Angel is one of the finest I’ve read. I also read the daily newspaper, the Washington Post, and the New Yorker magazine.

Gayle:  When I was young I found Jane Eyre and then became a fan of the Gothic Mysteries written by Mary Stewart and Victoria Holt. Although my taste in mysteries has grown and changed much since those days, I’m sure that combination of history, romance and mystery has had a major impact on my writing to this day.

What makes a good story?

Linda: Anything that evokes emotion or curiosity.

Betty: Characters that grab readers and keep their attention until the end of the story, a believable plot shadowed with clues that play fair with readers and threads itself through the story to a satisfying ending.

Pauline: For short stories it needs a tight premise, a fast hook into the story and solid ending.

Cash:  Unique characters caught in an intriguing situation fraught with increasing suspense; and terrifying villains who know their secrets. Eventually, familiar characters whom we have come to love will draw a reader’s interest, just to see what they’re up to now.

Gayle:  Mix interesting characters in a compelling plot.

Is there a different writing process for short stories than there is for novels?

Linda: Short stories don’t require as much planning as full length books.

Betty: There is no difference for me except to create a shorter trail. Since the story arc is the same, I develop all aspects of a short story tale on a diminished scale.

Pauline: I find that I need to write shorter for short stories and longer for long ones. If I could find a way to reverse this process, I could write my novels faster, but so far that’s the way it works.

Cash:  I go at a short story with much more spontaneity and less structural planning, once I get the idea. This means I usually write more than the story needs and have to delete a lot of the non-essentials once the first draft is done. There’s also much less opportunity for the characters to ruminate; who they are has to be revealed through their actions, so the plotting must be tight.

Gayle:  A short story requires the author to always be aware of the number of words used. The right words have to be selected to tell the most in the shortest amount of space. In a full length novel the author can/must segue into sub-plots during the story to develop motivation, to grow characters and to explain the complexities of the action while helping to move the story through the scenes to its conclusion. A short story doesn’t have the luxury of using that method.

How do you discipline yourself when writing?

Linda: The right story comes pouring out with no discipline required. If I feel I am forcing myself to write, then I set that project aside for a few months. Later, if it still feels forced, then it should be scrapped altogether.

Betty: I begin most days as I would any job. The great part is I don’t have to drive anywhere. I simply sit in front of the computer and hope my Muse visits. I have learned that if inspiration is elusive, I go to emails or just stop for a time—the afternoon usually becomes more productive.

Pauline: I have to promise myself stuff when I first start, but once I’m in the meat of the story, the hard part is stopping. I once typed so long that the ends of my fingers went numb. I didn’t know there are muscles in your fingers that can get sore.

Cash:  If I have a deadline coming up, I’ll get busy. ;) If I have a competition to enter, I’ll work and work to refine the project that’s going to be judged. Otherwise, I read all the time, and I make vast numbers of notes (many of which disappear into my stacks of earlier notes) that relate to my current project. It’s always in the back of my mind, even if I’m apparently ‘drifting and dreaming.’ Then I’ll write in spurts, reflect in spurts, rewrite, and try to keep going to the end.

Gayle:  I’m at the stage of my life I’m either disciplined or forget it. Two things will motivate me to write a story: a story I want to tell and a deadline I have agreed to hit. I know how to plan and use my time to meet my goals.

Have you participated in any other anthologies? If so, which ones?

Linda: Currently available from L&L Dreamspell: A Death in Texas, A Box of Texas Chocolates, The Mystery of the Green Mist, Vampire Dreamspell, Sleeping with the Undead and coming soon from L&L Dreamspell: Cats in a Dreamspell, Dreamspell Goddess, Dreamspell Revenge 2, and Erotic Dreamspell.

Betty: “Anna Rose” in A Death in Texas,“The Cowboy’s Rose” in A Box of Texas Chocolates,“Twisted Tales of Texas Landmarks” (coming soon) and two stories: “Crystals, Rainbows and Oz” and “The Great Spirit”.

Pauline: A Death in Texas, Ghostly Dreamspell, Mystery of the Green Mist, Romance of My Dreams II, and A Box of Texas Chocolates.

Cash:  Yes, in A Death in Texas and A Box of Texas Chocolates.  My next short story will appear in Twisted Tales of Texas Landmarks this fall.

When writing, what themes do you feel passionate about?

Linda: For fiction, mystery and the paranormal/unexplained. For non-fiction, metaphysical themes, especially about the nature of consciousness.

Betty: Justice for victims and/or crime and punishment, crime puzzles that move through mazes of misdirection, psychological twists and turns of romance—who wins, who loses and why.

Pauline: I like themes from movies. Both original "Star Wars" and the new one are beautiful. I really liked "Chariots of Fire", too. It’s hard to put that in a book. Maybe when the multimedia books become a reality, I’ll be able to have a really cool theme for my novels. (grin)

Cash:  I share with my heroine Jessie Carr a realistic skepticism about how well justice is served for the “little guy” who gets the shaft in a scam, as well as her desire to find creative ways to even the score. Since there are plenty of scams and schemes going down at any given time, Jessie has much to be passionate about. Animals, old people and children – anyone who’s weak and has been preyed upon without a remedy – are likely clients for her specialized skills; and those situations are likely to catch my interest.

Gayle:  Mostly I like the good guys to win. You will find that many different ways in my stories, I guess because I’m hoping that it is true.

Agatha Christie once said, “The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes.” When and where do you plan?

Linda: While driving.

Betty: Most of my plans are either when I go to bed or when I awake in the morning. There is also that indeterminable amount of time in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep and start thinking about characters or plots. Of course, after that sleep is forgotten.

Pauline: I plan everywhere, except when I’m driving. It’s too easy to lose track of where I am. My family claims they can tell when I’m plotting. I’ll get a “you’re not putting me in a book, are you?” from them sometimes. Or my husband will say, “You just killed me again, didn’t you?” Naturally I reserve the right to remain silent. (grin)

Cash:  I plan from the moment I get an inspiration about a story until it’s written and re-written to my satisfaction. I have many formal and informal ways to make that plan work for me, but I often find I’m having a brainstorm in the shower or while I’m cooking.

Gayle:  Even better than dishes is while doing a long-distance drive. Plug the iPod into the car and as the miles pass the ideas flow. I worked out the characters and plot for "Cruisin’ for a Bruisin" driving across Arizona, and solved the plot problems in Malice in Mexico on another trip through New Mexico and West Texas. Given any challenge I only have to arrange a trip.

Gayle, this sounds wonderful. I may use this approach from now on.

Do you have other writing projects underway, ladies?

Linda: Too many to count!

Betty: I have contracts with L&L Dreamspell for two novels that I’m very excited about. More to come later.

Pauline: I’m working on a whacky, but hopefully fun, Steampunk/science fiction romance, a connected story to Girl Gone Nova and Tangled in Time. It’s tentatively titled Steamrolled. I plan to complete it by this fall if my head doesn’t explode first.

Cash:  I’m refining an adaptation of the novel, “Ninth Lord of the Night,” by Diana Driver, which will be a feature-length movie script called “The Calendar Codex.” I have two more short stories due soon for another anthology, and I have six more Jessie Carr stories in various states that I need to polish. Much to my surprise, I recently found that I’d outlined a complete novel a few years ago and tucked it away, so I plan to pull that out and see where it might go; and I’ve got three more screenplays started. It never stops!

Gayle:  I just submitted the sixth book in my Claire Gulliver Series to my publisher; it is due out in September, this year. I am working on the first adventure in the series I have started based on the character in the story in this anthology. Right now I’m calling that book Murder Most Mystifying, a Glenda at Large Mystery, but who knows what I’ll be calling it by the time it’s finished. I have the plot for the first three of this series already in my head.

Where can readers learn more about you?


Betty: Readers can learn more about me on my website I am on Facebook and Twitter.

Pauline: (or they can call my mom.)

Cash:  They can go to my website, which is at There they can see two of the short films I’ve written, directed, and produced as learning tools. My background is pretty well documented there, too.

Gayle:  Check out my website:

Ladies, it has been a great pleasure. Continued success to all of you. I'm proud to be in your company.
(For more information about Dead and Breakfast and other Dreamspell publications, go to


Jacqueline Seewald said...

Interesting and informative interview!

Wishing you every success with this fascinating anthology.

Cash said...

Susan, thanks so much for your interest in Dead and Breakfast, and for your excellent questions!

Cash Anthony

Betty Gordon said...

Susan, thanks for your interest in the anthology and its authors. It doesn't seem to matter how well one knows an author, there's always new information.

Thanks, again. Betty

Pauline B Jones said...

Many thanks for your anthology interviews, Susan! You rock. :-)

Loretta said...

I enjoyed reading about each of the authors...and since I know all of them, it was like sitting down for coffee and listening to each one:)
It was interesting to see how each arrives at their story, and then how they apply themselves to get the job done.
It's always refreshing to know that a Muse is sometimes elusive for everyone:)
Great interview gals!

Denise Verrico said...

Great interview! I wish you much sucess.

Laura Elvebak said...

Great interview. Fun learning more about my fellow authors and friends. Fun and informative.

Gayle Wigglesworth said...

Susan, thanks for the great interview, it was fun to compare the answers to each question from everyone. Nice working with you.

Cindy Sample said...

Great interview. I love reading about what inspires other writers. It's always fascinating how different everyone's story is.

Susan Whitfield said...

When I started the anthology interviews, I wasn't sure what I was doing. I've been very pleased with the wonderful authors who have agreed to interview with others in the same book, and I learn something new almost every day from the interviews. I'm so glad you folks dropped by, and if I haven't interviewed you about your latest book, get in touch with me.

Christy Tillery French said...

Really enjoyed this interview! You're all so prolific!