Saturday, February 13, 2010

Killer Recipes Coming Soon!

The deadline has passed for submitting recipes for the mystery writers' cookbook. Thanks to nearly one-hundred mystery writers for sending in favorite family recipes to benefit cancer research. I have signed a contract with L&L Dreamspell and will get the word out when the book has a release date. Readers, this recipe book is chocked full of delicious recipes from cornbread to truffles. Purchasing information will be available soon.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Joan Hall Hovey: Nowhere To Hide

My guest today is Joan Hall Hovey. As well as penning suspense novels like Nowhere To Hide, Joan Hall Hovey's articles and short stories have appeared in such diverse publications as The Reader, Atlantic Advocate, The Toronto Star, Mystery Scene, True Confessions, Home Life magazine, Seek and various other magazines and newspapers. Her short story, “Dark Reunion” was selected for the Anthology, Investigating Women, published by Simon & Pierre, edited by David Skene-Melvin.
Joan also tutors with Winghill Writing School and is a Voice Over pro, narrating books and scripts. She lives in New Brunswick, Canada.

Welcome, Joan.
When did the writing bug bite, and in what genre(s)?
In early childhood. Of course, like most writers, I started out as a story listener. Both my mom and dad were great storytellers, and I needed only to hear the words: 'I remember the time when ...' to feel that rare and exquisite pleasure in the anticipation of a new story.
The dark, scary ones were best -- my father told of a man with the cloven foot who showed up at a card game...a young girl's body found in the woods behind the school... (murder was not so common then) the town drunk found dead in the cemetery, his face as granite-white with frost as the tombstones surrounding him. Word was that something had scared him to death.

My mother had a ouija board she and her friends took quite seriously. And we had a neighbor who visited us¾a fortune teller name Mrs. Fortune. It's true. Everyone was poor in money, but not in the abundance of inner life. Not so surprising then that my background should influence the kind of stuff I find delicious to write about.

When you started writing, what goals did you want to accomplish? Is there a message you want readers to grasp?
I don't think I had any goal in mind except to write a publishable novel, and the drive to do that was all-powerful. And I achieved it, three times, twice with a New York major publishing company once with another press, less prestigious. The truth is, I'm not all that ambitious in terms of career. But I do love to write and I love my readers and my goal is to entertain, while at the same time having my words make some comment on the human condition. A truth to resonate when the last page is turned.

Briefly tell us about your latest book. Series or stand-alone?
My books are stand-alones.

What’s the hook for your latest book?
I don't think in terms of hooks but of course you do need one. The Plan, my suspense novel-in-progress is an entry at Here is the blurb, which will give a better sense of the novel:

After nine years in Bayshore Mental Institution, once called The Lunatic Asylum, Caroline Hill is finally being released. There will be no one to meet her. Her parents, who brought her here, are dead.
They have found her a room in a rooming house, a job washing dishes in a restaurant. She will do fine, they said.
But no one told her that women in St. Simeon are already dying at the hands of a vicious predator. One, an actress who previouly lived in her building. Others.
And now, as Caroline struggles to survive on the outside, she realizes she is being stalked. But who will believe her. She's a crazy woman, after all.
Then one cold winter’s night on her way home from her job, a man follows her and is about to assault her when a stranger intercedes?
A stranger who hides his face. And whispers her name.

How do you develop characters? Setting?
I think about my characters, especially my main character, for a long time before I put words to page. I try to imagine her in various settings, depending on the story I want to tell. In The Plan I saw Caroline Hill standing at the window of Bayshore Mental Institution, looking out the barred window. I also listen to what she is telling me until she is so real to me I would recognize her voice on the phone, and I hope my readers feel the same.

I set my novels in a similar place to where I live, in New Brunswick, Canada as this is the place I'm most familiar with: the mind set, the flora and the fauna. But I might call it Maine or New Hampshire. I was an extra in Children of a Lesser God, filmed a couple of miles from my home, and pretending to be in the U.S. I do that, too. -J On the other hand, in my novel ,Nowhere To Hide, part of the story was set in New York, so I did a good bit of researching to get it right. In Listen to the Shadows one of the characters had flashbacks to his time in Vietnam, and that required some research, which I always do on a need to know basis. But be wary; you can really side sidetracked on the web, so many things to take your attention.

How do you determine voice in your writing?
I don't really do it consciously. The voice emerges in the process of writing, of getting to know my character. It comes out of my subconscious. That which Stephen King calls 'The boys in the basement' in his wonderful book for writers titled On Writing. It's one of the best books around, in my opinion. Voice comes out of character.

Do you have specific techniques you use to develop the plot and stay on track?
I don't outline as many authors do, but I do make copious notes, and I do a lot of rewriting. Novel-writing is a process of trial and error, and I do at least two drafts before I let anyone see it. However, I do often read passages to my husband as I progress. He's really my first reader, and is quick to point out if I've got the doorknob on the wrong side of the door, that sort of thing. It's very helpful and I'm sure keeps me from making a fool of myself.

My advice to new writers is to boldly barrel through that first draft and then you have something to work with. You're also a better writer now then you were when you began.

How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?
We writers are never sure exactly what part our environment and background color our writing, but of course they do. We perceive the world as we have experienced it. It's a part of who you are and you can't escape it. For example, a blue porcelain pot, a cracked medicine cabinet mirror or buckled sidewalks from my childhood will inevitably show up in my stories. They are there for the picking. To paraphrase Stephen King, (you can see I'm a fan) it's like having a whole circus inside your head. And I'm always eager for the next ride.

What are your current projects?
Aside from The Plan , my entry at I have completed another suspense novel titled The Abduction of Mary Rose and it's doing the rounds now right. Keep your fingers crossed for me. And check out my website for a release date.

Fingers crossed.
Where can folks learn more about your books and events?
My website: can read more about my books, including excerpts and reviews. My book are all available as ebooks on in most formats, including for your Kindle, Sony and more.
Love to hear from readers and writers both, so don't hesitate to drop me a line at jhhovey@nb.sympatico.

Thanks for the opportunity to talk to you. I've enjoyed it.
 So have I. Continued success, Joan.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Joselyn Vaughn's CEOs Don't Cry

Joselyn, welcome to the blog. Please give us a brief bio.
I grew up on a family farm in West Michigan and have always loved the charm and closeness of small towns. After getting married, my husband and I tried out the big city for a while and decided the pace just wasn’t for us. We moved to a small town and live there with our children and two beagles.
Before I became a stay at home mom, I worked as a librarian which kept me in close proximity to books. My favorite part of my job was buying books for the library. I got to read about all these great books coming out and pick ones that I knew our patrons would like. I miss having other people’s money to spend on books. The library’s budget was much bigger than mine.

I have always enjoyed reading and writing. I would check out stacks of books from my local library and finish them way before my mother was ready to make a return trip. I like that magic that reading brings to you. A whole other world that you can explore without having to go anywhere.

When did the writing bug bite, and in what genre(s)?
I’ve always wanted to write, but didn’t know exactly what length or genre. A couple years ago, a friend and I were talking and the idea for the Ladies Night Out in CEOs Don’t Cry came to me. I went home for lunch (benefit of being in a small town) and wrote the first chapter. At that point I knew the story would be a romance, but it languished until I ran into W.S. Gager and we became critique partners. She helped me get the story moving and has kept my feet to the fire ever since.
Currently, I am inspired to write romance. I have several romances in my mind for future novels. When that runs out, who knows what I will try to tackle.

When you started writing, what goals did you want to accomplish? Is there a message you want readers to grasp?
My first goal was to finish a novel length project. Then my characters started talking to me. The main characters are people who need to find their own destiny. They’ve been locked by preconceptions or outside pressures into roles or paths that won’t get them to the place where their dreams come true. Through the story they will discover how they can make their dreams come true. In CEOs Don’t Cry, the Ladies Night Out are manipulative, but Leslie ultimately makes the decisions for her future.

Briefly tell us about your latest book. Series or stand-alone?
CEOs Don’t Cry is the latest published book. It came out from Avalon Books in April of 2009. Courting Sparks has been contracted, but does not have a firm release date yet. They are both stand alone novels, but take place in the same community.

What’s the synopsis for the book?
After being passed over for a junior partnership and getting relegated to a branch office in the middle of nowhere, Leslie Knotts vows that she won’t let budget cuts, corporate upheaval or meddlesome ladies distract her from turning the branch around and showing she has the savvy for the upper echelons of the company.

Organizing and advertising his new construction business has been harder than Mark Schultz expected. Having his Aunt Minnie and her friends from the Ladies Night Out group throwing women in his path isn’t helping matters.

When his aunt's outrageous schemes spell trouble, Leslie and Mark team up to outsmart the Ladies. Mark introduces Leslie to his friends and she discovers genuine friendships as well as a love with Mark like she has never known. When a competing company offers her the big city partnership she has always dreamed of, will Leslie risk her future as a top executive to stay where her heart has found a home?

How do you develop characters? Setting? Do you have specific techniques you use to develop the plot and stay on track?
I usually try to write my first draft as quickly as possible. So far, all of my novels have been romances, so I use this draft to get the hero and heroine together. Subsequent drafts add complexity to the story, like more emotional content and other subplots. My critique group is fantastic at finding ways for me add more layers to each story and character. Sometimes it’s a bit overwhelming, but it definitely helps add to the story. About midway through my second draft, I will do some kind of outline to keep track of some of the plot lines or setting characteristics. For my WIP, I plotted the events on a calendar because I had a character with poison ivy. Once the events were on the calendar, I realized the character had the rash for two months! Ooops! I had to rearrange some events to shorten his illness. I hope he appreciates that.

How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?
Definitely. I grew up in a small town and I like to include that flavor in my novels. Everyone knows and cares about everyone – in good ways and not-so-good ways – but there is pride in the local community. Another thing about small towns that I like is how people refer to places – the Smith house, five-mile-corner – Everyone in town knows what these are.

What are your current projects?
I am currently working on another novel involving the origination of the Ladies Night Out. It takes place about seven years before CEOs Don’t Cry, so it’s been interesting working with some of the characters at a different time in their lives. In the WIP, several characters aren’t quite the people they grow into in CEOs Don’t Cry. It is hard to show the glimmers of the confidence they have in the later book in the less mature characters in the WIP.

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?
I love to have people visit my website: They can sign up for my newsletter there. They can also friend me on Facebook. I also try to pop into the chats on when I can.

Thanks for the interview, Joselyn, and have great success with your writing endeavors.