Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Randy Rawls: PI series

My guest today is Randy Rawls. Welcome, Randy.    

Good morning, Susan.

We'd be fascinated to know more about you.

I've been writing for quite a while.  I write for my pleasure, an avocation that keeps me young.  And, I must confess, I'm a much more serious Reader than I am a writer.  I love to read and my Kindle goes with me everywhere.   

How many books have you written and in what genre(s)?

I have six books published in my Ace Edwards, Dallas PI series, along with several short stories in anthologies.  The novels are pretty much out of print (I still have hard copies if anybody wants one), but the first two (JAKE'S BURN and JOSEPH'S KIDNAPPING) are available as ebooks published by L&L Dreamspell.  My Ace books are mysteries with chuckles built in.  Thorns on Roses is my first thriller and I will probably write a sequel to it.  I like series and believe the characters in Thorns can carry a series.  Thorns is available from as well as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other Internet sellers.  I'm also writing a female South Florida PI named Beth Bowman.  I have high hopes for Beth.  I also enjoy writing short stories and have had some published.  They run the gamut from young adult to Christmas stories to mysteries to thrillers to . . .  No romance or sci-fi yet.
What books or authors have influenced you?

Too many to name.  As I said above, I am an avid reader.  I read in almost all genres.  I'm a firm believer in learning from the best and hope I learn from each of the authors I read.  Three books that I read and re-read every couple of years are: To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee), Old Man and the Sea (Earnest Hemingway), and (are you ready?) Alice in Wonderland (Lewis Carroll).  If you haven't read Alice as an adult, you should.  A totally different story from the one you read as a child.  However, don't get the idea I only read old books.  I'm always on the lookout for a new writer as well as waiting for the next release from such as Robert Crais, PJ Parrish, Harlan Coben, Ken Follett, Radine Trees Nehring, Sylvia Dickey Smith, CJ Box, Phillip Margolin, and many, many others.  Like I said, too many to name.

What are your writing goals?

Have fun and entertain as many people as possible.  If I can make a few bucks along the way, that's even better.
Tell us about your latest release.

Thorns on Roses is a thriller featuring Tom Jeffries, an ex-Special Forces NCO, who is now a PI in South Florida.  For good reason, Tom has no faith in the justice system.  When the seventeen-year-old daughter of his best friend is found dead in the trunk of an abandoned car—raped, strangled, and nude—Tom vows to avenge her murder.  As Tom tracks the gang, Thorns on Roses, he discovers more about himself than he ever dreamed existed.
Is it available in print, ebook, and Kindle formats?

Yes.  Thorns on Roses is available as an ebook for all readers and as a print book.  L&L Dreamspell is my publisher and Thorns can be found at their website  The Kindle version is at Amazon, Nook version at Barnes and Noble, etc.

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

Yes, the Beth Bowman mystery that I am currently writing.  I call it Death by Vengeance.  The challenge comes from the crime that Beth is attempting to resolve—the kidnapping of a five-year-old girl.  While the story is absorbing and I love my characters, the aspects of a kidnapped child are difficult for me to handle.  I shall be glad when I have it finished, edited, and sold.

How do you develop characters?

Characters evolve as I write.  For example, the second lead in Thorns on Roses is a female lawyer.  To give Tom some degree of cover for his actions, I decided to have him on retainer with a major law firm in South Florida.  Suddenly, I had the senior partner and his son, a junior partner, assigning Abby Archer, one of their sharp young attorneys, to assist Tom.  Once she entered the picture, she became a driving force and the love interest for Tom, a confirmed bachelor.  When I started Thorns on Roses, I had no idea there would be an Abby.  She just appeared and took on the role.  And don't think she's just a piece of eye-candy.  She can dish it out—as Tom discovers.

How do you choose your setting?

I use settings that I know well.  I hate finding setting flaws in books I read.  My Ace Edwards stories are all set in Texas, five of them in small towns.  I went to those towns, walked the streets, talked with the people, and researched the area, learning as much as I could about them.  Then I wrote the story through the eyes of Ace as a stranger to the town.  It was fun weaving in a bit of the history of the area into each book. 

I now live in South Florida, thus Thorns on Roses and the Beth Bowman series are set here.  The streets are real, the kookiness of the area is real.  I want my settings to ring true to anyone who knows them.

Randy, do you have specific techniques you use to develop the plot and stay on track?

Don't I wish.  I start with a crime and it goes from there.  I envy those who can outline a story, then stick to that outline as they write the book.  But my way is more fun.  The story forms in front of my eyes as the book progresses.  A character that I see as major might become minor.  And a character I introduce as a bit player might take over.  In Joseph's Kidnapping, book two in the Ace Edwards series, I introduced a female lawyer and made her as unlikeable as I could.  She was a witch, no doubt about it.  But a funny thing happened as the storyline developed.  I liked her and she liked me.  Thus, by the end of the book I had made her a nice person and a keeper in the series.  She appeared in two more of Ace's adventures, each time on Ace's side.
How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?

The environment of South Florida definitely colors my writing.  We have a saying here: There is no fiction in South Florida.  Anything you write happened yesterday, is happening today, or will happen tomorrow.  And, while I usually say it with a smile, it is true.

Can you tell us about current or future projects?

The immediate future will be filled with promoting Thorns on Roses.  I'll be traveling to writers' conferences, hitting bookstores, and working the Net.  I am very hopeful it will be a winner in the eyes of readers across the country.  Depending on feedback, I may start book two in the series, send Tom and Abby off on another avenger adventure.  Also, I have a Beth Bowman to finish and ebooks to promote.  Oh, I'll also write and sell (I hope) more short stories.  There will be no letup in my writing life.  As long as it remains fun, I'll keep doing it.
Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

My website is and, as I say above, my publisher's website is  I'll try to keep my site up to date, and I know L&L will continue their sterling work.  Also, I love to hear from people.  Ask me anything, I'll try to answer.  And, don't think I'm only looking for praise.  I have thick skin.  Scold me if you think I deserve it.  Contact me at  (But, if you insist, I also accept praise. J)
 LOL. Thanks for dropping by, Randy, and continued success!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Cynthia Vespia: Demon Hunter

My special guest today is Cynthia Vespia, author of Demon Hunter. Welcome to the blog, Cynthia!
Thanks, Susan.
What has been your most rewarding experience during the writing process?
It is always most rewarding to hear reader feedback, that's why I write. But during the writing process it becomes very rewarding to have the story tell itself. What I mean by that is the flow. When it is effortless enough that it feels like I'm reading it myself or when the story takes a different turn that I wasn't expecting. That's what brings me joy.
Tell us about your latest release, DEMON HUNTER: HEROES CALL
This is part three in the Demon Hunter trilogy. The final act calls for a test of will for the protagonist Costa. Since we met him in part one THE CHOSEN ONE, he was just coming into his skills as a demon hunter. In part two SEEK and DESTROY he had become more seasoned. And now when we visit him he has quietly stepped out of the life to tend to his family until danger once again comes knocking on his door. I really pushed him this time and challenged his choices. Does he take the same path or choose a different one. The thing about Demon Hunter has always been the underlying “demons” we all face in our own minds and daily lives. Those things that tell us we aren't good enough, smart enough, strong enough. Those demons are more dangerous than any physical being. This is what Costa faces head on in HEROES CALL...himself. It is available as an ebook on August 29th, 2011.
What are some of the problems you faced while plotting a series with ongoing characters?
Growth mostly. It is important that these characters develop not only within the pages of the novel that they're in but the ongoing series itself. Realistically people change all the time. Through different experiences lives are shaped and character traits are born. When you're putting your characters through these extreme situations the way I did in the Demon Hunter series then they are going to be changed in some form or another...sometimes even physically. These are the things you want to keep in mind when going from book to book in a series. Then on the flip side I also like to make sure that they can stand alone as well. If someone picks up Demon Hunter 3: Heroes Call without having read 1 or 2 they are still going to get a great fantasy adventure that doesn't leave them confused on who these characters are or what the backstory is. 
How do you develop characters?
Developing characters is my favorite part about writing. You get to create the way you were created. If anyone has ever played The Sims it is a bit like that. You get to build your character from the ground up and decide what they look like, act like, work as, moral codes, values...everything. I make sure my characters fit my world. Even if I'm working on a contemporary piece I want them to react and behave like people really would given these matter how extreme. For Demon Hunter I wanted a trio of characters that all balanced each other. Each was different and unique which brought a sense of wholeness to this group as they went out on the stages of adventure put before them. This way the reader can find themselves able to relate to what is going on. I think that is the basis of good character building. Even if it is a villain, they need to be relateable in some way.
What are your protagonist’s strengths? Flaws?
Costa Calabrese comes from a long line of demon hunters. He has inherited skills such as strength, agility, intuition, as well as the gift of foresight. In other words sometimes he will dream things before they happen or have visions like premonitions.
His flaws come from just being human. None of us are perfect.
How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?
I used to read a lot when I was very little. Those stories are what initially sparked my interest in writing and shaped my writing voice. Since then it has taken on a life of its own.
Can you tell us about current or future projects?
I can tell you that I'm working on two different thriller series, one about a hitman and the other about a private investigator team. There will also be more from the demon hunter saga in the future.
Where can folks learn more about your books and events?
You can find me at;; and

I wish you continued success, Cynthia. Keep those great books coming!