Friday, December 9, 2011

Roxanne Smolen's Wolf Boy

Good morning, folks. I'm sitting here with author Roxanne Smolen to discuss her new release, The Amazing Wolf Boy. Welcome back, Roxanne. Help yourself to a cranberry orange muffin and cup of hot tea.

Yum, Susan. Thanks for having me again.

For those who may have missed your first interivew, please give us a short biography.

My name is Roxanne Smolen, and I write science fiction. I’ve been writing professionally since the year 2000. Before that, I guess I wrote unprofessionally. I have nine published novels. My first three books were adult fiction. Someone said that sex sells, so I thought I’d try my hand at it. Since then, I decided that I didn’t want to write anything my grandkids weren’t allowed to read. Now my books are rated PG—no bad language, and no overt love scenes.

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

Harry Potter had an impact on me, for what it was as much as for what it wasn’t. I was amazed at how Rowling took the rules of writing for young adults and threw them in the air. Her books were big. She used big words. And still she wrote some of the most popular books of all time. She taught me that it’s great characters and good stories that make a book memorable, not rules.

Please give us a short synopsis of your new book, The Amazing Wolf Boy.

Being a teenager is difficult enough without having to hide the fact that you’re a werewolf. Cody would do anything to be a regular kid again, especially after he meets Brittany, the most perfect girl in the world. But when Brittany is kidnapped and her life threatened, Cody learns to appreciate his untried super powers. Can he rescue her in time?

When do you accomplish your best writing?

I’m a morning person. Around 6:00, I brew a pot of Earl Grey, sit with my laptop in my comfy chair, and write. On a good day, my tea grows cold because I forget to drink it. On a very good day, I forget to eat lunch, as well.

Is there another book on the horizon?

One of the joys of writing, or reading for that matter, is when the characters get under your skin and feel like friends. I love Cody and Brittany too much to let them go, so I’m writing a second book that picks up right where the first one ends. Hopefully, I’ll continue documenting their lives for a dozen books or more.

After hours of intense writing, how do you unwind?

Don’t laugh, but I like to watch old science fiction television shows. Firefly, Babylon 5, Battlestar Galactica. I spend my evenings with them. Currently, I’m revisiting Torchwood.

Is The Amazing Wolf Boy available in print, ebook, and Kindle?

My book will be released in print on October 28th. You can pre-order it at Barnes and Noble  It’s available as an ebook at All Romance Ebooks

Or buy it now for your Kindle

Where can we get more information about you?

You can find me most anywhere. I try to keep a digital presence. My favorites are:

Thanks for having me, Susan. It’s always a pleasure. 

Back at you, Roxanne.         

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

John M. Daniel's Redwood Door

Come in, friends! John Daniel and I are Behind The Redwood Door, waiting for you. John has worked as a bookseller, a free-lance writer, an editor, an entertainer, a model, an innkeeper, and a teacher. He and his wife, Susan, live in Humboldt County, California, where they are small-press book publishers. Susan enjoys gardening, John enjoys writing, and they both enjoy living with their wondercat, Warren. 

John, I'm delighted to have you here this morning to talk about your latest book, Behind The Redwood Door.

Thanks so much for inviting me to your distinguished blog, Susan. I feel honored!

Tell us something about yourself that readers might be surprised to learn.

People may be interested to know that in addition to writing mysteries, I am also a publisher of mysteries, under the imprint Perseverance Press. So I’ve seen all aspects of this game.

How many books have you written?

Yikes! I’ve written 29 books. Eight of them never got published, thank goodness. Seven of them were ghost-written for other people.  I published a few of them myself. But I’m proud of them all.

Wow! What books or authors have influenced you?

I still can’t get The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, which was the first book I read by myself, out of my mind. It made me want to be a reader, and I’ve reread that book at least a dozen times over the years. But I thank Richard Bissell for making me want to be a writer. He is (was, because he’s been dead quite a while now) my favorite novelist.

What has been your most rewarding experience during the writing process?

When my first Guy Mallon mystery, The Poet’s Funeral, was published by Poisoned Pen Press in 2005, it got a STARRED REVIEW in Publishers Weekly. This meant the world to me, because my book was a loving satire of the publishing industry, and I knew the review (and maybe even the book) would be read by my colleagues in the business.

However, let me say this: the most rewarding experience I’ve ever had as a writer is the process of writing itself. The joy of writing story beats all the reviews.

I agree, John.
Tell us about your latest release, Behind the Redwood Door.

As I write this, Behind the Redwood Door hasn’t come out yet, but it will be published November 20, just in time for my birthday. It’s the third Guy Mallon mystery. It takes place on the North Coast of far-northern California, redwood country, where I have lived for the past eight years. Guy’s no longer a publisher, but he still can’t stop getting into trouble. He stands five feet tall, but he stands up tall against bullies. In this book his foolhardy courage almost costs him his life.

Is it available in print, ebook, and Kindle formats?

It will be a print book, paperback at $14.95. It will also exist in ebook form and will be available in Kindle format.

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

My second Guy Mallon book, Vanity Fire, presented a huge challenge because I dealt with the dark side of publishing. I went into a black mood as I wrote that book, because I knew how sadly true some of it was. However, I got through it, and I’m proud of the book. Another book that gave me fits was my ebook, Elephant Lake. It dealt with an eight-year-old boy’s problems sorting out the serious problems of his mother’s alcoholism and his uncle’s suicide. Believe it or not, the book has its lighter moments, though.

What are some of the problems you faced while plotting a series with ongoing characters?

Well, it’s hard to believe that a mild-mannered amateur sleuth like my pint-sized hero, Guy Mallon, would always get himself into a pickle with hardened criminals. At the end of Behind the Redwood Door Guy promises his wife that he’ll stay out of trouble from now on. Will he? We’ll see.

How do you develop characters?

No matter how hard I try to tell them what to do or what to say, they always seem to have a mind of their own.

So true, John, and I love that, don't you?
How do you choose your setting?

I write about places I’ve been. Most of my books take place on the California coast, my stomping grounds.

What are your protagonist’s strengths? Flaws?

Guy was called a “flawed” protagonist in reviews of Vanity Fair. His flaw was to succumb to dishonesty. That will never happen again, at least in my books. Otherwise his flaws are a sassy courage and a feisty manner shared by many short people (think Mickey Rooney, think Danny DeVito). His strengths? He has the tenacity of a bulldog and the wit of a class clown.

We all know how important promoting our work has become. How do you get the word out both off and online?

 I’ve been blog-hopping a lot lately, as publication date draws nigh. I maintain a blog of my own, too, and I’m on Facebook. I’ve sent out a lot of advance reading copies to mystery media. (We maintain a good list of them for promoting Perseverance Press.) When the book comes out I’ll be sending out review copies and press kits. But I expect my most effective sales campaign will be emailing my own list of friends, family, and hundreds of colleagues in the writing and publishing worlds. I also teach creative writing, so I have a giant list of former students.

Can you tell us about current or future projects?

Just a there are always more books to read than I have time to read them, I have more plans for books to write than I’ll be able to finish in my lifetime, and the idea bank keeps getting fuller and fuller. All I can say is this: I’ll always be writing, and whatever I’m working on at any moment will be the place my spirit is living.

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

The new book, Behind the Redwood Door will be published by Oak Tree Press:

Here are my contact spots:

my website:                             

my amazon author page:

and facebook:

John M. Daniel was born in Minnesota, raised in Texas, and educated in Massachusetts and California.  He was a Wallace Stegner Fellow in Creative Writing at Stanford University and a Writer in Residence at Wilbur Hot Springs. He has taught fiction writing at UCLA Extension and Santa Barbara Adult Education and was on the faculty of the Santa Barbara Writers Conference for nearly twenty years.  He now teaches creative writing for Humboldt State University Extended Education.

John’s stories have appeared in dozens of literary magazines. His thirteen published books include four mysteries: Play Melancholy Baby, The Poet’s Funeral, Vanity Fire, and Behind the Redwood Door, recently published by Oak Tree Press.


Monday, December 5, 2011

Marilyn Meredith

F.M. Meredith, also known as Marilyn Meredith, is the author of nearly thirty published novels. Her latest in the Rocky Bluff P.D. crime series, from Oak Tree Press, is Angel Lost. She’s also been an instructor at many writers conferences including the Central Coast Writers Conference and the Maui Writers Retreat. Marilyn is a member of EPIC, Four chapters of Sisters in Crime, including the Internet chapter, Mystery Writers of America, and on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. Visit her at and her blog at
Marilyn Meredith has stopped by for cookies and milk. Welcome, Marilyn.
Tell us something about yourself that readers might be surprised to learn.
Thanks! I write two series—which means writing two books a year. Besides the time it takes, I have to adjust my thinking depending upon which book I’m writing.

How many books have you written?

I haven’t bothered to count the exactly number, I only know over thirty have been published, and there are a few that will never see the light of day.

Tell us about your latest release, Angel Lost, from Oak Tree Press.
As plans for her perfect wedding fill her mind, Officer Stacey Wilbur is sent out to trap a flasher, the new hire realizes Rocky Bluff P.D. is not the answer to his problems, Abel Navarro can’t concentrate on the job because of worry about his mother, Officer Gordon Butler has his usual upsets, the sudden appearance of an angel in the window of a furniture store captures everyone’s imagination and causes problems for RBPD, and then the worst possible happens—will Stacey and Doug’s wedding take place?
Is it available in print, ebook, and Kindle formats?
Yes. And I might add, though this is a series and many characters continue through each book, I write them so they can stand-alone. The crime is solved, whatever has been going on will be taken care of by the end.
What are some of the problems you faced while plotting a series with ongoing characters?
It is really important for me to keep track of names of new characters (I tend to change them in mid-book) and their characteristics. I have more trouble with the names then what they look like, I am able to “see’ the characters in my mind and usually can describe them without a problem. See the word usually? That means that I do make mistakes sometimes and I’m glad I have editors who are good at catching the mistakes. The worst one I did early in my career was in the middle of a book, changing the type of car a main character drove.
How do you choose your setting?                                                  

For my Rocky Bluff P.D. series, the setting is a small beach community between Ventura and Santa Barbara, California. This is a fictional town and I did this because I wanted to write about a small town police force without much money. The detectives solve most of their crimes by old-fashioned police work; studying the crime scenes, questioning suspects and witnesses, following up on clues. However, in this particular series, much attention is placed on what is happening with the officers’ families and how that affects them, and how what happens on the job affects the family. This is particularly prevalent in Angel Lost.
How does your environment color your writing?

For over twenty years we lived in a beach community and knew and interacted with many police officers and their families who lived in our neighborhood. I was friends with the wives, their kids played at our house and my kids played and in some cases babysat for theirs. I got to see first hand how the job affected the families. My son-in-law was a police officer in this particular town and he shared a lot of insight with me. The weather in Southern California is always interesting, there’s a lot of fog and fog adds a lot to a mystery.

We all know how important promoting our work has become. How do you get the word out both off and online?
Promoting takes a lot of my time because I know how important it is to let people know about your books. I do a lot of interviews like this, thank you, Susan, blog tours, promote on Facebook and Twitter and other social sites. I have a monthly newsletter that I send out to anyone who’d like to subscribe. All someone has to do is email me at and ask to subscribe.

As for in-person events, I love to give presentations at libraries, for writing groups, bookstores, social and service organizations. Book and craft fairs are also something I enjoy.

Can you tell us about current or future projects?
Next up in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series is No Bells. In this book, the spotlight is placed on Officer Gordon Butler. He’s been a favorite of my readers through the series. Things never go easy for Gordon, if something can go wrong, it will.

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?
My website is and my blog is