Wednesday, June 23, 2010

J.D. Webb

J. D. (Dave) Webb resides in Illinois with his wife (42years in Dec 2009 and counting) and their toy poodle, Ginger, losing all family votes 2 to 1. Dave served in the Security Service of the Air Force as a Chinese linguist and weather analyst in Viet Nam and the Philippines prior to spending 25 years in corporate management. After a company purge he promoted himself to cobbler and owned a shoe repair and sales shop for 11 years. During those careers Webb wrote short stories and suppressed an urge to write a novel. After making a conscious decision to live at the poverty level, novels began forcing their way out.

Welcome, Dave. Tell us when the writing bug bit you and in what genres.

In high school in 1959 a proclivity for mischief garnered a seat in the creative writing class as punishment. It was the best thing they ever did to (for) me. And since that time I’ve never hesitated to do mischief.

My passion for mysteries began at about the same time when I read Rex Stout’s Fer de Lance. I was hooked, and I still am.

What are your writing goals?

Trying not to be flippant, my goal has been fulfilled. I began in 2002 with one goal in mind: to finish a novel. Everything else is gravy, icing on the cake or whatever cliché you want to use. I write because I can’t not write and my current goal is merely to keep pounding on the keyboard

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

No actual message. I just want everyone to enjoy the story. To feel connected with my characters; to love the protagonists; and to want the nasties to get their due. My books will always have a happy ending.

Tell us about Smudge.

Smudge published by L & L Dreamspell is my first stand-alone novel. I had an idea about a small town girl trying to make it despite obstacles, which would stop most of us in our tracks. She fights chauvinism on her job, an abusive husband, criminals, and health issues, proving to be that strong, resourceful, determined woman, well known in the USA.

What’s the hook for the book?

A small-town paralegal wipes a smudge off the screen of her ATM one night. It’s blood.
Were any of your books more challenging to write than the others? If so, why?

Smudge, my latest was the most challenging. It’s from a totally female perspective. Being male I had to be extremely careful to tap into my female side. As a female, you don’t just say purple describing a color. It has to be shades of fuchsia, orchid, or lavender. Fortunately I had five ladies (all excellent writers) in my writing group who gently chided me, telling me, “a woman would never say or do that!”

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

I converted a bedroom into my office. I have my trusty computer (without which I could only produce one book every five years, instead of one a year), a thermos of ice-cold water, and jellybeans. On my wall - a 3 ft by 2 ft target (a poster size image of a man crouching, pointing a gun at you) I received while going through pistol training (nine out of ten in the body), my huge painting of a stalking white wolf in the Canadian winter, and a pipe rack with over twenty formerly smoked pipes. Then there’s my printer, my how-to-write books and my indispensable Flip Dictionary. Observing me at all times is my toy poodle, Ginger, who goads me out of my sedentary state at times by having us go for a walk.

What are your current projects?

I tired of seeing authors from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India et al, appearing on the New York Times bestseller list. I don’t begrudge them I’m just envious. So I have become Khataa Baasem writing a novel about a teenage boy who is plucked from his Afghan home by a Taliban tribal leader after that man had killed the boy’s father. He is then forced to train as a member of the militia in Pakistan. Having been orphaned, the boy’s only quest becomes killing the man who destroyed his life. By the way Khataa Baasem in Pashtu means to deceive. The working title is The Sun Also Sets.

Interesting approach.

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?!/jdavewebb?ref=profile

Shepherd’s Pie (Golden Wings Award winner)
Moon Over Chicago (2008 Eppie Finalist)

Her Name Is Mommy (Now available)

Smudge (2010)

The Drifter Revenge II Anthology (2010)

Stuck in Valhalla (available at

Thanks for dropping by, Dave, and continued success to a fellow Dreamspell author.

Monday, June 21, 2010

A visit with author Nancy Famolari

Nancy Famolari lives with her husband, five horses, two dogs and five white cats on a farm in the Endless Mountains of Pennsylvania. Before moving to Pennsylvania, she and her husband owned a small Standardbred breeding farm in Central New Jersey. Her novel, Unwelcome Guest at Fair Hill Farm, based on her experience raising Standardbred horses, is available from In The Lake House, her second novel, a young romance novelist solves the mystery of a brutal murder in her new home – the lake house. This book is also available from

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

This is a hard question. I love books, like most authors, and have so many favorites it's hard to pick. I'm a fan of Dorothy Sayers. After reading Gaudy Night I knew I wanted to write mysteries with a strong female protagonist.

What are your writing goals?
My near term goal is to finish my Montbleu Murders series. I have one book published and another ready to go with two more in draft. Beyond that, I want to continue to grow in my writing, try new things, and hopefully develop a readership.

Is there a message in your writing you want readers to grasp?
The message in both my YA novel, Unwelcome Guest at Fair Hill Farm, and in my mysteries is rather simple. We all need other people. No one goes it alone; everyone has useful talents.

Great message, indeed. Tell us more.
The Lake House is romantic suspense. The story takes place in a house that has been vacant for ten years because it was the site of a brutal murder. Tory and her husband buy the house so that Tory, a romance novelist, will have a quiet place to work. The house turns out to be anything but quiet when the ghost of the murdered woman shows up and the murderer, who was never caught, tries to silence Tory because she's researching the old murder.

What’s the hook for the book?

A murder that occurred ten years ago and is still haunting the town of Montbleu as well as the lake house.

Do you think your writing has improved since your first attempt? In what way?
My writing has definitely improved since my early tries. I made all the mistakes, too much back story in the opening, telling not showing, and spotty grammar. I've worked on all those technical things and now I think I've got a handle on most of them. Now that I've mastered more craft, I want to concentrate on making the story come alive.

The Lake House has been my most challenging book so far. I have an important sub-plot woven into the mystery. I have also given more of a glimpse into the lives of my characters as they solve the mystery. It wasn't easy for me to keep both threads going and keep the tension mounting.

How do you develop characters? Setting?
For characters, I wander around and imagine them. Names are important. I can see the person once I have a name. After I visualize the character, I do an extensive profile. I usually only do it for main characters, but occasionally, I've done it for minor characters as well if they had a pivotal role.
For setting, I try to use areas I'm familiar with and modify them. Montbleu is based on the little towns in the Endless Mountains of Pennsylvania. I can't say I use one town, but I take features from several. Since I'm doing a series based in this town, I have a map and a break down of the history of the town. I find it makes it easier if you know the place you're writing about.

What are your protagonist’s strengths? Flaws?
Tory's strength is that she's very determined. In the book, people keep telling her to leave the old murder alone. She can't. She has to know what happened. This gets her into trouble, but it also leads to a happy ending. Her major flaw is feeling guilty. Like many women, she feels responsible for making her relationships work, and she tries very hard. However, there are some things you can't fix by yourself. It takes two.

How do you determine voice in your writing?
That's another very difficult question. One of the members of my critique group told me that I'm a very visual writer. This surprised me because I don't even watch television. However, I do describe what I see happening in my head, so I guess my voice has a large visual component. My characters, so far, are all based on an amalgam of people I know. I try to present them mostly through actions and some inner dialog. I think the reader has a right to their interpretation of the character. I know people see real people in different ways, even if they witness the same scene. I think the same should be true for fictional characters.

Do you have specific techniques you use to develop the plot and stay on track?
Another member of my crit group said I'm a “seat of the pants” writer. My technique is to first write the book. I find plotting works best when I know the end game. Working toward it, I ask myself what is the next logical step for my character to take. Once the book is finished, I go back and make a plot outline that includes a time line. At this point, I may change some of the scenes, add more, or eliminate others. It may not be the most efficient way to get to the second draft, but by then, I know my characters and how they will react in various settings. I also know the setting and feel comfortable in the world I've created.

How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?
My environment is what I write about. My first novel, Summer's Story, and my young adult book are based on my experiences breeding, training and racing Standardbred horses. The Montbleu series is based on the naughty happenings in small towns. I live in a small town and while the books are an exaggeration, there are elements of truth.

How do you promote yourself online and off?
Online, I have a website ( I also have two blogs (Nancy Famolari's Place: and Nancy Famolari's Author Spotlight: I'm on Twitter, Facebook and My Space. I also belong to a great group, VBT, Writers on the Move. It's a virtual book tour group. Each month we host a member on our blog. It's a good way to meet people and publicize your blog. It also give us publicity for our books once a month.

Offline, I try to do presentations. I'm doing one at a local library in June. I also tell people about my books and give them away in contests.

Where do you write? When? What do you have around you?
I am extremely lucky in my writing space. The Pennsylvania farm has an apartment in the barn. I claimed it and that's where I work. I can look out, see the mountains and trees. It's great. My desk was made by a local carpenter from old barn wood. The boards on the top are more than twelve inches wide and and inch and a half thick. I love the desk. I designed it, and it's a perfect place to write.

I'm envious.
I like to write in the morning. I find I'm most alert and able to concentrate. During the day, little things build up that have to be done and often I don't get back to the computer after lunch, much as I'd like to.

After hours of intense writing, how do you unwind?
We have Paso Finos, so I try to go riding as often as possible. It's good exercise and a great way to see our property. Having animals, caring for them, and working with them takes your mind off other things and cheers you up. I have admit I live in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Just looking out a the mountains and trees is relaxing.

What are your current projects?
I'm getting the second Montbleu novel ready to publish. I'm also working on a romance novella based on a short story I did awhile ago.

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?
I publicize my events on Twitter and Facebook. I also have the information on my blog: Nancy Famolari's Place. If you live in the area, sometimes you can even find my in the local paper.

Thanks for giving us more insight, Nancy, and continued good fortune.