So much to see, so much to do! Plenty of details to share this month, now that the festival season is now in full swing. I have an update on the newest book in the Jamie series, plus an interview with author Brenda Whiteside and of course, music. There must be music. Let’s roll!
At a recent art festival, my booth was set up and ready to go. This would be a long event over two days. Months ago, I asked Samantha Moran, another local author, to share the space. That would help bring her books to the attention of the people at the festival and hopefully attract new readers.
One of the first readers who stopped by Friday afternoon got very excited when she learned that I had multiple novels with the same characters. Turns out she was a fan of book series.
I never started out with the idea of writing a series. It was my intention to write one good book that I could be proud of, one that people would enjoy reading and then move on to something else. Well, that kind of, sort of happened. But as Mel Brooks would say, “Man plans and God laughs”.
Considering I have now written 5 Jamie Richmond stories and 3 Jefferson Chene mysteries, having an ongoing series makes perfect sense.
“Devious” was the first book I wrote. When it was accepted, the publisher asked me when a second book with Jamie could be expected. They liked the character so much that it would be a shame not to create another adventure for her.
That got me started on “Vanishing Act”, the second Jamie tale. But in the back of my mind, I really wanted to focus on a police investigation. I already had the backstory in place for Jefferson Chene. Then a flash of inspiration hit. Why not include Chene in a minor role in the second Jamie book?
I did that and it worked out just fine. Which started a pattern. Since all the books primarily take place in Metropolitan Detroit, it shouldn’t be that difficult for characters from both series to make cameo appearances. Jamie and Malone have been in two Chene mysteries. A few of Chene’s associates appear in “Chasing Favors”.
As long as the ideas continue, I will write more stories for each series. But first, I need to get back to work on the crime novel.
Work In Progress:
It’s official. The cover art for “Chasing Favors” has been finalized. The book will be released on July 25. There are links at the bottom of this section if you’d like to preorder your own copy.
But first, I’ve been persuaded to throw a party. A Virtual Launch Party. My good friend Diana, who is the driving force and host of the Indie Reads Aloud podcast series, has convinced me to give this a shot. She has even agreed to host the event.
I’ll be reading several scenes from the book and answering questions from the audience. Anyone can follow the links on my website and register. The more people who attend, the more prizes I’ll give away. The grand prize will be one autographed print copy of “Chasing Favors”.
Meeting new authors can be a lot of fun. When this happens in person, like at the art festivals, we can often share quick histories about our writing journeys, the challenges and successes we have faced. Sometimes we can share humorous interactions with shoppers.
While I haven’t met Brenda Whiteside in person, we’ve connected through our individual writing and promotion efforts. So here’s a chance to learn more about Brenda.
Tell something about yourself and how you became an author.
I’ve always loved to write but never considered the possibility of writing for others until I took a creative writing class “just for fun.” I was hooked. I started with short stories until one of them turned into a book.
Do you ever imagine one of your novels being made into a movie or television series?
I have a lighthearted romantic suspense I think would make a great chick flick. The cozy mystery series I am currently working on would make a great replacement for Murder She Wrote.
Any favorite actors you’d cast in the lead roles?
Good question, but honestly, I haven’t gone that far in my musing.
What is your writing process? For instance, do you do an outline first? Do you write the chapters in sequence?
It depends on the book. I do a loose synopsis for my romantic suspense books. I ALWAYS do a character sketch for each character before I begin. For the cozy mystery series, we do a fairly tight synopsis. I am co-writing this series with Joyce Proell, and she’s a master at synopsis writing. I think when it comes to mystery and keeping the villain secret, it takes more planning.
Tell us a little bit about the characters in your latest book.
I’ve had a couple of latest books lately. It’s been a busy past ten months. I’ll choose one—Candy, Cigarettes, and Murder. This is the first book in the Chocolate Martini Sisters Mysteries I co-wrote with Joyce Proell. Emma and Nic are sister amateur sleuths. They are best of friends but have different personalities. Nic has long blonde hair and is eccentric. Emma had short, auburn hair and is conservative. Nic is a travel author and parttime candle maker. Em is partially retired but advises on psychiatric/social cases and part-time mystery writer. They are totally alike in their love of all things mystery.
Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?
Yes to both questions!
What is your latest book about?
Recently widowed, Emma Banefield looks forward to a getaway birthday weekend with her free-wheeling sister, Nicole Earp, sipping chocolate martinis at the peaceful, historic Dulce Inn. When a rude stranger, a nasty food critic, and a madhouse of temperamental artists greet them, all hope for a tranquil weekend evaporates faster than dew on a hot desert morning.
Overlooking the riotous atmosphere is doubly hard after Em discovers the body of a hotel guest, and a second murder affects Nic personally. Now, entrenched in a caper that pits them against a surly detective, they cozy up to a hotel staff hiding dangerous secrets to uncover clues to the killer.
Using their smarts and love of all-things mystery, will the Chocolate Martini Sisters solve the crime ahead of the obstinate Chief Detective or find themselves trapped in the middle of a third murder?
Can you share an excerpt too?
Before the waitress could open her mouth, Shaw bit into her. “What is the sauce on this chicken supposed to be?”
“You ordered the Southwest Chicken in Chipotle Cream.”
“I’m quite aware of what I ordered, young woman. What’s your name?”
“G-Gonzalez. Karen Gonzalez.”
“Well, Ms. Gonzalez, instead of telling me something I already know, why don’t you tell me what a chipotle cream should taste like?”
The young woman’s bottom lip trembled, and her eyes sparkled with unshed tears.
“Do you know?”
Nic braced her hands on the table, ready to spring to the hounded girl’s rescue. “What a jerk.”
“I don’t know how he can complain.” Her sister spoke around a mouthful. “It’s what I ordered, and the sauce is delicious.”
“Sit back and eat. No need for you to make a scene.” She swallowed and feathered fingers in the air. “We’ll have a word with the manager on how well Karen responded and leave her a good tip. That’s a better way to seek justice for her than disrupting everyone’s meals.”
Two tables over, Karen’s shoulders hunched and her chin dipped before the haughty restaurant critic. “Could I get you something else, sir?”
“If I’d wanted something else, I would’ve ordered it.” The veins in his temples bulged. “Get me the chef. Now!”
“Yes, sir.” The server hustled out of the dining room.
“I hope the head chef is the type to light fireworks rather than bend over backwards for the ass.” One glance at Em told her she didn’t feel the same.
Her sister released a sigh. “This is supposed to be a quiet dinner in the ambience of a fine hotel. The start of a relaxing weekend.”
“Good grief, Em. You don’t get this kind of entertainment without paying for it. This is like dinner theater.” She shoveled in a healthy bite of mushrooms and beef, giving an appreciative hum to accompany her chewing.
The double doors of the kitchen flew open. Out came a stocky man dressed in a double-breasted white jacket with gold buttons, black slacks, and a burgundy ascot at his throat. If the outfit didn’t clue the restaurant patrons as to his profession, the poufy chef’s hat hanging to one side would. Like a charging bulldog, he tore a path directly to Shaw, clasped one hand in another in front of him, and nodded his head. “I’m Head Chef Grayson Payne. What seems to be the problem?”
What’s the next project you’ll be working on?
Actually, I’m working on two. I’m writing a children’s book with my ten-year-old granddaughter. I’m also busy putting the final edits on book two of the Chocolate Martini Sisters Mysteries. “Reading, Writing, and Murder”.
You can find Brenda’s book at the links below.
Variety is the key to my playlists. Whether it’s on Pandora, Spotify or YouTube, my favorites jump across a number of genres. Lately the Blues Brothers keep showing up.
John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd created Joliet Jake and Elwood Blues as part of a sketch for Saturday Night Live. Back by a tribe of very talented musicians, that sketch spawned actual concerts and a hit movie. The band covered classic tunes in soul and rhythm and blues.
Here’s my top five favorites from Jake and Elwood.
Everybody Needs Somebody: https://youtu.be/EHV0zs0kVGg
Soul Man: https://youtu.be/FTWH1Fdkjow
Sweet Home Chicago: https://youtu.be/-_KkgPRo4wA
Gimme Some Lovin’: https://youtu.be/-aqZmPInK3o
Jailhouse Rock: https://youtu.be/TosN2G1mmTs