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

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Denise Verrico's Cara Mia

My special guest today is Cara Mia author, Denise Verrico. Welcome, Denise. Tell us a little about yourself.
I was born in New Jersey, but grew up in western Pennsylvania. I started writing in High School. I wrote comedy sketches and song parodies with a friend of mine, just for fun. I majored in theater at Point Park College in Pittsburgh and moved to NYC to pursue an acting career. After I graduated from college, I started writing plays, but I didn’t get serious about writing until I was in my thirties. Around the time my son turned two and started to be a bit more independent, I felt a strong urge to do something creative again. I wrote a couple of plays and had an original one and an adaptation produced. Cara Mia developed in those years. I read a lot of Anne Rice around that time. Vampire stories have been a passion since I was a little girl and a fan of Dark Shadows on TV. After Rice killed off a favorite character of mine, I had a dream about a female vampire and this inspired my heroine, Mia.

I currently live in Ohio with my husband of twenty years and my teenaged son. We’re all roller coaster fanatics and spend a lot of summer weekends at amusement parks. Our vacations usually consist of hopping from one park to another in two or three states. When I write, I like to sit curled up on my sofa with my laptop and a couple of my seven parrots.

Tell us about Cara Mia.

Cara Mia, Book One is the prelude to the Immortyl Revolution. It’s an urban fantasy with a rather strong science fiction component. The story deals with Mia becoming a vampire and her struggle to survive as a modern woman in an ancient culture. Along the way she meets another slave, Kurt, in whom she finds a sympathetic friend and lover. She and Kurt steal the secrets of immortality from their Immortyl masters and strike the first blow for freedom for the downtrodden of their society.

Mia and Kurt’s story brings together two people who have “suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”. Both are in their sixties when they finally pair up, so this definitely isn’t a teenaged relationship. The strong bond that develops between these two characters is very important to the entire series. In Book Two, Twilight of the Gods, Kurt rises to become a charismatic rebel leader and Mia, as his consort, is forced to navigate a minefield of vampire politics.

My publisher is L&L Dreamspell, and it’s been a very positive experience to work with them.

How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?
Great question, Susan. My ethnic background is a very important part of my life. My Dad was a first generation, Italian-American and my Mom’s grandparents came from Germany. I love to flavor the dish with tidbits of Italian culture and phrases. Some of Cara Mia is set around Naples, where my grandmother was born. Mia is a very earthy heroine with strong passions. On the other hand, Kurt is pragmatic, methodical and logical. He likes to use the occasional curse word auf Deutsch.

My theatre background pops up a lot in my writing. You’ll find lots of theatre and art references in my work. Mia was an actress in New York in the 1950’s and Philip, her kinsman was an Elizabethan actor. Kurt is a musician. Mia is performing in Ibsen’s The Master Builder when her master Ethan first encounters her. This play is an important thematic element in the book.

What are your protagonist’s strengths? Flaws?

Mia is fiercely independent and smart, with a strong sense of justice. Nothing bugs her more than the strong preying on the weak, which is the way of most of her kind. She will risk her life to protect others. On the negative side, she’s cantankerous. Mia flies off the handle, makes hasty decisions and is prone to rather acerbic comments that make her prickly. Kurt brings out the best in her. He understands that her tough exterior is a protective skin and loves this complicated woman for who she is.

How do you develop characters? Setting?

I fall back on my theatrical training and create a complete backstory for each major character, even if it never is meant to be in the book. I find out everything about this person, such as likes and dislikes, relationships to others, deeply held beliefs and moral philosophy, all the way down to their favorite foods and clothing. Quirks are what make a character come to life for me. Mia and her kinsman Philip tease one another a lot. He calls her “wench” and she calls him “an Elizabethan artifact”. These little relationship details make a story real.

I always think of my vamps as people, even the really bad ones have driving passions. The trouble ensues when the heroine and hero get in the way of the villains’ agendas. I like to give my villains interesting quirks or make them charming in some way. The most important part of developing a character and a story for me is to be able to articulate in a single sentence that character’s internal conflict or what we call in the theatre, the “super objective”. Mia is a vampire who wants to walk again in the sun.

I do a lot of research on history and cultures. I like to create characters from periods that I find interesting, like the Civil War or the Holocaust. Kurt was imprisoned in Dachau as a boy of fifteen. His experience there has filled him with an intense desire to right wrongs and protect others.

In choosing my setting, I couldn’t think of a better place to set an urban fantasy than Manhattan. I spent many years in the NYC area and it is my favorite place. New York after dark is a character in her own right. The rich ethnic and cultural tapestry gives a writer a lot of material for settings and characters. Even though I now live in Ohio, I go back to NY at least once a year to take photos and do research. The art deco building across the street from a friend of mine’s apartment inspired “The Vampire State,” the building Mia and Kurt use as the base for their revolution.

Book three, Fearful Symmetry, which I’m putting through my critique group. It’s set in near Calcutta, India. I had to do loads of research, but I’m still hoping to get there!

Were any of your books more difficult to write than the others?

Well, the first was a challenge because I’d never written fiction before, but I’d have to say Fearful Symmetry. Cedric MacKinnon the POV character is a nineteen-year-old prostitute, dying from AIDs. He’s playing his guitar in the London underground when his master finds him. Raj plucks Cedric from the streets and makes him immortal. Cedric typifies the lost boys and girls of my books. To me, the vampire is a metaphor for man’s inhumanity to man. Kids and young adults are trafficked in horrible ways in the real world by the human “vampires” that prey upon them.

Raj takes the boy to India where he is trained as an adept of the ancient arts. An adept is an Immortyl temple dancer, singer and courtesan in the service of a tantric cult of the goddess Kali. Because of Cedric’s profession there is quite a bit of sexual content, but it’s not written for purposes of titillation. Sex is part of the tantric religious rituals, but the boy is used as a political pawn in the chief elder’s intrigues. Cedric often suffers abuse from those he entertains.

The scenes aren’t explicit in a clinical way. What is going on in Cedric’s head is the important part. Although he’s a rather irreverent lad, his story has a tragic element. It’s a fine line to tread. On the other hand, I’ve found the challenges of writing this book to be an enjoyable experience. I really have to give some credit to my writer’s group, the North Columbus Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers for helping me to develop this one.

Current projects?

Book Two of The Immortyl Revolution, Twilight of the Gods will be out this fall. I’m currently working on it with my marvelous editor Cindy Davis. I’m doing revisions on book four, Ratopia. I’m also working on two other novels outside of the Immortyl Revolution series. One is a magic-based urban fantasy with lots of paranormal creatures and the other is a paranormal romance parody, called Betti Loves Yeti.

Where could folks learn more about your books and events?

I’m at

I’m on Facebook almost daily:!/pages/Immortyl-Revolution-Fans-of-Denise-Verrico-author/290431344200?ref=ts

Signed copies of Cara Mia are available for sale through links on my website and blog. My books are found in trade paperback and multi format e-book, including kindle at Amazon, Barnes and Nobel, Borders and Fictionwise websites.

Thanks for the information, Denise, and I wish you the best of sales!
It’s been a pleasure visiting with you today, Susan! Thanks for this opportunity.

Folks, here's more about Cara Mia:
Reviews of Cara Mia:

With delicious descriptions and characters that the reader can really sink his or her teeth into, this story is page-turner. Denise Verrico cleverly incorporates unpredictable plot lines that weave through tones of the ordinary and provocative. The novel has a lot of meat to devour and I enjoyed the twisting journey of the characters--Hot Gossip Reviews

A great number of the novels that focus on vampires fall prey to certain cliches. Cara Mia is a wonderful exception with an intricate, unpredictable, and intelligent plot and well-developed characters--author of Midnight Reflections, Katrina Michaels

If you like your vampires with a mix of science fiction then Cara Mia Book One of the Immortyl Revolution by Denise Verrico is the book for you. The story begins with a fast pace and holds the reader until the end- -Lexington Vampire Examiner.

It was a thrilling read that kept me glued to the pages. I cannot wait to see more from this author- My Immortal Stories

The characters are well written and the story is different from what I usually read which was a nice break from the norm--Paranormal Haven.

It's been a pleasure, Denise. I wish you well.

Monday, July 5, 2010

A Saxon Tapestry

Margaret Blake lives in the North of England. She has published novels since l978 and likes to go on long walks and enjoy the company of good friends. Recently widowed, Margaret has one son, a beautiful daughter-in-law and three great grandkids. “As they live in Florida I get to visit, so although I do miss them, there is a tiny bonus in there too.”
Margaret, it’s great to have you over. Tell us what books came along at just the right time to influence your reading/writing?

When I was young I was inspired by the Bronte sisters. I was forever writing novels about young women wandering the moors. As the moors were not that far from Manchester, where I lived, it was easy to visit. I read and enjoyed lots of romantic novels, especially Mills and Boon, and many historical romantic writers like Jean Plaidy and Kathleen Woodiwiss. I learned an awful lot about history from Jean Plaidy.

How wonderful!
What are your writing goals?

I don’t really have any goals, I write because I love writing. Publishing my books is a wonderful bonus but even if I weren’t published I would still be writing. For a couple of months because of things in my life, I have been unable to write. It was like losing a limb. Fortunately I am now back in the saddle.

Is there a message in your writing you want readers to grasp?

I am not a “serious” writer, what I want my readers to do is to be entertained. Of course when I write my medieval romances, I hope they realize that King Richard the Third was not a monster and that King Harold of England, was a real hero!

I loved Richard III!
Tell us about your latest book.
My latest book is set at the time when William the Conqueror stole England from its rightful king, Harold (see above). It tells the story of a young woman who has to resort to extraordinary means in order to keep her land. Also shown is the cruelty to the English people by William but that in spite of that, love will flower (but never for him!).

Do you think your writing has improved since your first attempt? If so, in what way?

I hope so! When you are writing you are forever learning new ways of expressing things. Writing styles have changed too – now there is much more showing rather than telling and it is important to pace your novels.

Were any of your books more challenging to write than the others? If so, why?

I decided to try my hand at romantic suspense. My first attempt was very well received Breaking the Clouds published by Robert Hale. I found I had to keep the suspense rolling and not reveal everything at once. Again, it is all to do with pace.

How do you develop characters? Setting?

Really my characters develop themselves. They live in my head and come to life on the page. Settings can be tricky. I have learned to use a certain area but change the names if I am writing medieval romance. I have used Florida , New Zealand and Australia, places I have visited, but I try to research very carefully if I am using a “real” place. Oddly I have written two books set in Spain and I have never been there. France is a country I know very well and have never set a novel there. Odd or what, but it’s just what comes in my head.

What are your protagonist’s strengths? Flaws?

Alfled in A Saxon Tapestry is very young and has been the adored daughter in a house of men. She tends to be hot headed and not consider consequences; this is her main flaw, her strength of character stems from her pride in her name and in her family. Rolf Le Blond is insecure in his claim to Alfled’s land but he is also always sure he is right. He has to learn the hard way that perhaps a native English person knows more than he does! In a way it is a strength and a flaw.

How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?

I think being an only child and living in my imagination, helped to colour my writing. I spent lots of time on my own and so would write stories about having brothers and sisters. I lived in a very poor area in an industrial city but wrote longingly of the countryside and of horses and dogs. It was an ability to do that, I think, that made me able to step in and out of different periods.

How do you promote yourself online and off

I share a blog with three other Whiskey Creek writers Obviously, I belong to lots of writing groups. There are on occasions the opportunity for me to give a talk about writing, then there is Facebook and MySpace, all good places to let people know what is happening. Also the local newspaper is always very kind to me!

Then there are writers like yourself who are kind enough to interview me.

Where do you write? When? What do you have around you?

I use a little upstairs room; I have lots of books on shelves, my computer of course, cd’s. It faces on the street and sometimes when I am stuck for something to write, I glance out of the window and see what’s going on. That usually does the trick and I get back to what I should be doing, which is writing.

After hours of intense writing, how do you unwind?

I watch television. Usually I work in the afternoon so go and see the news, sometimes have a glass of wine while my dinner is cooking. Now and again I go out for dinner with a girlfriend, which is always nice, but generally I have to say that I find the television entertaining. I record lots of films and favourite shows, and these are what I generally watch rather than mainstream television. If I am really blue I put on a Frasier, guaranteed to cheer me up no end.

Any current projects?

Yes I am working on a straightforward romance and a romantic suspense. I actually have another book A Fatal Flaw in the works (no date yet) which is a romantic suspense set in Florida. I had a go at humour with this one, so hope that it works!

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

All the current news about my books and events can be seen on my website, and also I post regularly on Facebook.

Margaret, continued success. I keep sayin I'm going to visit Europe, and if I ever do, I'll look you up.
Thank you, Susan for this opportunity to visit with you. I have really enjoyed your challenging questions. I would also like to wish you all the very best.