Saturday, December 11, 2010

L.J. Sellers: PASSIONS

My guest today is L.J. Sellers, discussing her books. L.J., congratulations on the new book, Passions. I've read it and it's awesome writing, like the rest of your books. Please give us a short synopsis of each of your books.

Hi, Susan. Thanks. These are the one-sentence blurbs I use on my website:

The Sex Club: A dead girl, a ticking bomb, a Bible study that’s not what it appears to be, and a detective who won’t give up.

Secrets to Die For: A brutal murder, a suspect with a strange story, a missing woman with secrets to hide—Can Jackson discover the truth in time to save her?

Thrilled to Death: Two missing women with nothing in common, a dead body, and a suspect who hasn’t left his house in a year—Jackson’s most puzzling cast yet.

Passions of the Dead: A murdered family, two addicted suspects, and a deadly home invasion lead Jackson on the most disturbing case of his career.

What are you currently working on?

I’m working on a fifth Jackson book. In this novel, I tell part of the story from the POV of Detective Lara Evans, one of Jackson’s taskforce members who has been present in all the other stories. I’m having fun developing this secondary character. I’m also outlining a thriller that features Lara Evans twenty years in the future. It’s unusual and interesting to write about the same person at two different points in her life and different times in our culture. I love futuristic thrillers, but this is the first time I’ve attempted to write one. You’ll notice, I said attempted.

Oh, goody! I love the Jackson series. Bring it on!

Your Lethal Three-Layer Fiesta Dip is in the Killer Recipes cookbook.* Did you create it or is it an old family recipe?

I wish I could say I created it, but I saw it in a magazine many years ago. It was probably the Parade magazine that comes with the newspaper because I don’t subscribe to any homemaker publications. I’m not very domestic and I don’t do any baking or knitting, but I do cook almost everything we eat from scratch. My extended family loves this dip, and they ask me to bring it to every potluck, so I make it frequently. I wouldn’t call it healthy, but it’s not a worst-case scenario either.

Do you have upcoming events you’d like to mention?

The fourth book in my Jackson series, Passions of the Dead, is being released late this year, so I’ll be hosting some local book signings as well guest blogging. I’m also doing a book giveaway on BookTrib in November, and I’ll be selling and signing at the Holiday Market in December. The market is usually a terrific event for me. Eugene crime fiction fans love my series, and they often turn out to buy a signed copy even if they’ve already read the e-book version. I also plan to attend Left Coast Crime in late March. It’s a fun conference, and I’m excited to see Santa Fe. The LA Times Book Festival is on my list for next year too. It should be a great selling event.

Where can folks learn more about you and the Jackson series?

My website is loaded with information. I have an extensive bio on my About page, tons of photos, PDFs of my journalism work, excerpts from all six of my novels, book discussion questions, and links to my guest blogs. I also have a weekly e-book giveaway on my website for my two standalone thrillers: The Baby Thief and The Suicide Effect.

Where can readers purchase books, and in what formats?

My books are available in trade paperback and e-book formats. Print copies can be ordered from Amazon or almost any local bookstore, and you can buy my e-books on just about any reader or tablet—Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Sony, iPad, etc. The e-books are only $2.99, which readers think is a steal. The first book in the series, The Sex Club, is offered at a promotional price of $.99. I love that digital technology allows so many new readers to try my series at such a great price.

L.J., once again, it has been a pleasure. I'm truly a fan of your writing. Have a wonderful Christmas!

* Killer Recipes is a unique cookbook of recipes from mystery writers all over the country. I compiled the book and we're giving all proceeds to The American Cancer Society to help stomp out cancer in our lifetime. To purchase for yourself or for gifts, please head over to where you'll find Killer Recipes in print, ebook, and Kindle formats, in time for Christmas. Thanks for your support!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Marilyn Gardiner: Mistletoe and Holly

Marilyn Gardiner, author of Mistletoe and Holly, is here to discuss her writing. Good morning, Marilyn. Please tell us what inspired Mistletoe and Holly.

Hello, Susan. I’d contracted with Wings for a three-book series, but when the third was published my publisher wanted a fourth to round out the four friends featured in the series. I’d always wanted to write a Christmas book anyway, and I agreed. Since books in a series need to come out every six months in order to keep them fresh in the reader’s mind, I had to write four books in two years. Usually it takes me a whole year to write one book, so this was a stretch. A friend’s daughter had just gone through a messy divorce where the children’s unreliable father, often on drugs, kept pressing for more visitation rights and privileges with the children, and the trauma she went through was uppermost in my mind. I decided to combine my favorite holiday with a painfully difficult issue – and wow! did I strike a nerve. I’ve heard from readers all over the states about their similar experiences. Series titles include: Dancing Ladies, Window on Windemere, Banjo Eyes and Mistletoe and Holly. I am extremely fortunate that all of them have won terrific reviews and several awards.

Congratulations! Could you give us a brief synopsis of Mistletoe and Holly?

I wanted, Bree, my heroine to struggle with a frightening issue and, at the same time, try to make a lovely Christmas memory for Becca, her small daughter. The traditional trappings of the holiday are thrown in to jeopardy when Bree is made the target of a stalker. She is terrified the culprit is her ex and that he wants even more than just their daughter. Ty, a childhood friend, is determined to convince Bree of his love and dependability, but due to her previous experience she’s wary of another relationship. When Becca goes missing on Christmas Eve, this precious holiday becomes a nightmare.

What other novels have you written?

Ten of my books are published by Wings e-Press. They all fall under the umbrella of romance, but they are each different. I have a paranormal, a contemporary, an historical, several suspense novels, an adventure, and an Inspirational. I’ve submitted three of them to Romantic Times and all three have been awarded four stars, which puts me next to Nora Roberts and Jayne Ann Krentz, and above Janet Dailey. A truly rarified atmosphere. My historical, Like A River, My Love, is about Verity’s trip down the Ohio River in 1778 with George Rogers Clark’s small army to capture Ft. Kaskaskia in the Illinois country. It was awarded one of those four stars I mentioned, and to date it remains my best seller.

I write every day except Sunday, but sometimes then too, if I have a deadline. A professional writer once said to me that nothing succeeds like the application of the seat of the pants to the chair. He (Paul Darcy Boles) said, “Write. Write. Write. In the teeth of the storm, by God, write.” And I do.

Where can we get these books and in what format?

All my books are detailed on my website: available in both download and POD. I also write daily devotions for Advent and Lent, which are very popular. My books can be found on my website (see above), on Wings website:, Amazon, and Fictionwise. Or, if you prefer, contact me at

I have two more books finished, but not yet sold. Thine Is The Kingdom is the story of one woman’s struggle to hold the family together when a mine waste dam breaks in W.VA and floods an entire valley. Families are torn apart, homes lost and lives will never be the same. Comanche Moon is the saga of the journey westward along the Oregon Trail. Jenny’s husband dies in a freak accident and she is left to cope alone with the hardships, illnesses, Indians and Eldon Hagemeyer who threatens the success of the entire train. When her small daughter is kidnapped by Indians, Jenny goes after her, along with the train’s guide, into Indian territory.

Your Grave Robber’s Coffee Mix, in Killer Recipes, is a favorite of mine. Thank you for submitting several recipes and for being part of the cookbook project to benefit cancer research. Do you have personal experience that prompted you to help?

Given the massive numbers of those who daily battle cancer, I’m not alone in having lost someone dear to the disease. Recently a very good friend—a writer friend—gave up the fight with cancer after several years of valiantly coping with a husband, children, illness, fear, treatment and trying to live a normal life. At my last mammogram (and I get them regularly), I asked the technician if it was my imagination, or the fact that with communication being so wide-spread today we hear about it more, but cancer seemed to be on the rise. She answered that indeed there were more cases every day, and the worst part was that no one knows why. Research seems to be the only way we’ll ever come to grips with this dreaded disease, and I am doing everything I can to hasten that day.

(All of Marilyn's recipes and those of dozens of other writers are in Killer Recipes, a perfect Christmas gift that keeps on giving. Proceeds from the book are donated to The American Cancer Society for research, and of course, the recipes are wonderful. Available at in print, ebook, and Kindle formats just in time for Christmas giving.)

Where can we learn more about you?

There is a bit more information on my website, but I can tell you now that my first office was my bed. I wrote under the covers, at night, by flashlight, and didn’t think anyone knew I harbored a consuming desire to write books. I’d walk the aisles of the tiny library in the small town where we lived, and put my finger between the books on the shelf where I was sure mine would one day live. I visited that library not long ago, and found that, sure enough, my books were exactly where I one day dreamed they’d be. What a good feeling! Where can you learn more about me? Write to me. I answer all my fan mail, and I’d love to hear from you.

From time to time I do a lot of public speaking. I go to libraries, civic meetings, both men and women’s groups, churches, anywhere they ask me, and I love to talk about my books and writing. A few weeks ago I spoke at a library in Mt. Zion, Illinois, and in a few days I’ll be speaking at yet another library—this one in Pana, Illinois. (And I sell books at all of them.) At this time of year I’m featuring Mistletoe and Holly as a possible stocking stuffer. The president of the local Rotary Club once said I was the best speaker he ever remembered listening to. And—here is a bonus. Recently, my minister-husband visited a parishioner in the hospital. Her roommate had, on her bedside table, one of my novels which she said the librarian had recommended as one she would like. These are the tidbits that make long hours at the computer, the neck and back aches, and late dinners all worth while.

Sometimes I think I write for my grandmother. In spite of only a 5th grade education, she was an avid reader. When I was about ten years old she told the entire family around the Sunday dinner table that one day I would write all the books she never could. Well, I have a twenty-four-year-old grandson who just sold his first poem. I can’t help thinking that one day he might write all the books I never could.

Thanks so much for the opportunity to talk to all of you. And, “write, write, write….”

Marilyn, thanks for taking the time to drop by. Now back to writing...and have a wonderful Christmas!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Kathleen Delaney's Murder for Dessert

Kathleen Delaney, author of Murder for Dessert, has dropped by to answer a few questions. Welcome back to the blog, Kathleen.

What inspired Murder for Dessert?

I wrote the book while I was living in Paso Robles, CA., the central coast’s wine country. As a real estate broker, I had some experience in the wine business, representing both buyers and sellers in the sale and purchase of vineyards and wineries. Plus, my daughter managed all the special events for one of the area’s best known wineries and had arranged many “dinners with the wine maker.” They always seemed perfect to those attending them, but behind the scenes—well, things sometimes got a little hectic. That’s what got me started.

Who's your favorite character?

 That would have to be Ellen’s Aunt Mary. She’s a woman in her early seventies who manages all of the fund raisers for charity in their small town, her favorite is rummage sales. It pleases her to see all those items with perfectly good use left in them go to someone who can use them instead of ending up on the trash pile before their time. And if something doesn’t sell and it’s close to her size, well, it goes home with her. It makes for some strange outfits, but she’s oblivious to such petty details. She’s a warm, wise person without a shred of vanity

Please give readers a synoposis of the book.

Ellen McKenzie and her fiance’, Chief of Police Dan Dunham, are on their way to the very upscale Harvest Festival Dinner, hosted by Ellen’s niece, Sabrina and her husband, Mark Tortelli. They are seasoned winery professionals. What could go wrong?

New to Silver Springs Winery, the Tortellis have been worried for weeks that their jobs depend on the success of this event, and the reputation of the guest chef hasn’t helped calm their nerves. Otto Messinger is noted for his temper tantrums. Ellen is hoping he’ll keep himself in check. Dan is hoping the Tortellis, who have been staying with Ellen for a month, will triumph and soon find their own place to live.

Tonight’s guest list seems to include everyone who has ever had a feud with Otto, a fact the chef is thoroughly enjoying. The dinner progresses, a little shaky but without disaster.

Then it’s time for dessert. But where is Otto?

Are you writing another book?

Murder Half Baked is the next book in the Ellen McKenzie series. It is scheduled to be released late this spring. This time, Ellen and Dan are to be married on New Years Eve and Ellen is overwhelmed with wedding invitations, guests arriving for Christmas and staying over for the wedding, a gift of a wedding cake Ellen hates, and a new real estate client. Grace House, a home for troubled women, needs a larger facility and Aunt Mary volunteers Ellen’s services to get the old one sold and find them a new one. Ellen reluctantly agrees, but then the elderly doctor who tends to the Grace House residents is found beaten to death in the cemetery and all clues seem to point to someone connected to Grace House itself. Only the house burns down and all its residents come to stay with Ellen and Dan. Is one of them a murderer? Will her house be burned down as well? Most importantly, will all of Grace House residents still be with her on her wedding day? Ellen needs to help Dan solve this one, and fast.

And Murder for Dessert is available on Amazon, through Poisoned Pen Press, and by special order through most book stores. Unfortunately, or fortunately, most independent bookstores are sold out. It is, however, up on Kindle. The first two Ellen McKenzie books, Dying For A Change and Give First Place to Murder are available through my web site and will also be up on Kindle by the end of this month. I will post the release date of Murder Half Baked just as soon as I get it, but it will be late spring, early summer. Check the website often.

Speaking of dessert, you submitted Old fashioned Applesauce Cake for the Killer Recipes book, a project that benefits cancer research. Tell us about it.

It truly is an old recipe. My mother made it when I was growing up and I made it for my children as well. It’s a great snacking cake, goes into lunch boxes or on picnics easily, and can be made with wheat or unbleached flour. I was delighted to contribute it to your wonderful cookbook. It especially pleases me that the proceeds go to fight cancer. As a breast cancer survivor, it is a cause dear to my heart.

Got events coming up?

The next event will be in February, at Cape Fear in Wilmington, NC. I will be on a couple of panels and will have books available for purchase.

I'm planning to attend as well. I'll look forward to seeing you.
You can learn more about me by visiting my web site I will be making changes to it in the near future, one of which will be the posting of a new short story or article once a month. The first one will be up the beginning of December and is entitled “Fire” a spooky little tale that came to me while I was driving down the side of a mountain that had recently burned. I’d love to have people visit and always encourage comments. I also blog with Creatures and Crooks and have a new one up. Check it out.

Thank you, Susan, for this interview. The questions have been great and fun to answer.

Nice to have you back, Kathleen. I'll see you at Cape Fear Crime Festival! Folks, Kathleen's books and Killer Recipes would both make excellent gifts. Remember that proceeds from the cookbook are donated to The American Cancer Society to help kill cancer in our life time. Have a Merry CHRISTmas and a wonderful New Year.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Ernesto Patino's Web of Secrets

Ernesto Patino is today's guest. Ernie, congratulations on the success of Web of Secrets. Please tell us what the novel is about.

My novel is about a young woman who is being blackmailed. Someone is threatening to reveal some shocking facts about her birth parents and her illegal adoption thirty years ago. It is a story of bigotry, intrigue and murder.

What was your inspiration for the book?

The inspiration to write the book came from my niece who was adopted. She was in her early thirties when she decided to look for her birth parents. She kept me apprised throughout the entire process, and I knew that someday I would write a story about adoptions.

You submitted recipes for the cookbook, Killer Recipes, a project that benefits cancer research. What's the backstory for Tortured Tortillas and Eggs?

Tortured Tortillas and Eggs is a dish that my mother would make at least once a week. It is easy to prepare, with few ingredients but very tasty, especially if you like Mexican food. For me, it is comfort food that brings back wonderful memories of my childhood and especially of my mother.

Are you writing another book? If so, tell us about it.

My latest book is a mystery titled The Last of the Good Guys, soon to be released by L&L Dreamspell. Like Web of Secrets, the story is set in South Florida where I lived for over tweny years. Many of the characters are based loosely on people I met during the course of my life as an FBI agent and private investigator. I also just completed a novel titled One Last Dance, which I am currently editing. It is a love story set in the world of ballroom dancing. I am a ballroom dancer and had great fun writing it.

Do you have any events you want to mention?

I gave a workshop for mystery writers on November 13th from 2-4:30 p.m at Clues Unlimited in Tucson, Arizona. I promoted my novel, Web of Secrets as well as the recent cookbook, Killer Recipes. I am also scheduled to give a workshop on March 12, 2011 at the Tucson Festival of Books. The workshop is titled Truths & Myths about Private Investigators - Creating Believeable P.I. Characters.
Where can we learn more about you?

For information visit my website:

Thanks for dropping by, Ernie.