Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Devil Can Wait Book Cover: Final Day to Vote

Voting ends on
December 31, 2008

If you've already voted, thank you!! If you'd like to, it's easy to do. Just go to http://www.erinaislinn.com/BookCoveroftheMonth.htm find the book cover for "The Devil Can Wait" and click on the link next to it. It will generate an e-mail for you to send in your vote. Everyone who votes will be eligible to receive a free copy of the winning entry.

Thank you for following my posts and my writing career. Thank you for stopping to answer my questions or leave a comment on some of my posts. Thanks for making me laugh when I needed it most and for your constant encouragement.

Best wishes for much health, happiness, and success in 2009!

Friday, December 05, 2008

December 2008 Virtual Book Tour Stops

I am touring with Pump Up Your Book Promotion between
December 1 ~ December 23

I hope you'll stop by each of the stops listed below. I'll be updating the links everyday and adding the archived links to the blogs here.

Leave a note, question, or comment on the tour stops and you could win a FREE virtual book tour from Pump Up Your Book Promotion if you're a published author with a recent release or a $50 Amazon gift certificate if you are not published!

And while I have your attention! If you have a copy of either of my books, "Silenced Cry," the "The Devil Can Wait" or both, send me a picture of yourself with the book(s) in hand for the upcoming FAN PAGE on my website, http://www.martastephens-author.com/.

The pics can be serious, goofy, or anything in between.

As you can see, I'm thinking life is too short to not have fun. So Sam Harper Fans, send those wacky pictures to me in jpg format to ma50step@yahoo.com. Sam and I would love to meet you!

So where am I today and where have I been? Here:

January 2009 - Was the virtual book tour worth it? http://bookmarketingbuzz.com/2009/01/22/was-the-virtual-book-tour-worth-it

Dec 23 Jungle Red Writers http://www.jungleredwriters.com/index.html

Dec. 22 Boomer Chick Blog "A Midlife Dream" http://overthehillchick.blogspot.com/2008/12/guest-blogger-marta-stephens-midlife.html#comments

Dec. 19 Crystal Reviews--Review of "The Devil Can Wait" http://www.crystalreviews.com/authors/s/stephens-thedevilcanwait.htm

Dec. 19 Blog Talk Radio Author Read --Excerpt from "Silenced Cry" http://www.blogtalkradio.com/AuthorsRead/va/2008/12/19/marta-stephens-silenced-cry

Dec. 18 As The Page Turns "A Christmas Presence" http://asthepagesturn.wordpress.com/2008/12/18/guest-blogger-marta-stephens-a-christmas-presence/#comment-186

Dec 17 Zensanity (interview) http://zensanity.blogspot.com/2008/12/devil-can-wait-by-marta-stephens.html

Dec. 15 The Book Czar (review) http://thebookczar.blogspot.com/2008/12/devil-can-wait-by-marta-stephens.html

Dec. 13 A Year of Gratitude--Health, Wealth & Happiness for Free (guest blot) "When Your Cup’s Half Full, You Don’t Thirst" http://barbaraquinnyearofgratitude.blogspot.com/2008/12/when-your-cups-half-full-you-dont.html

Dec. 12 Joanna Slan Blog (guest post) "Between the Lines." http://joannaslan.blogspot.com/2008/12/between-lines.html

Dec. 12 The Tome Traveller (review) http://thetometraveller.blogspot.com/2008/12/review-devil-can-wait-sam-harper-crime.html

Dec. 11- Café of Dreams (review) http://cafeofdreams.blogspot.com/2008/12/devil-can-wait-by-marta-stephens.html

Dec. 10 The Book Connecton (review) http://thebookconnectionccm.blogspot.com/2008/12/devil-can-wait-by-marta-stephens-book.html

Dec. 9 – American Chronicle (interview) http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/82432

Dec. 8 - Blogcritics (author interview) http://blogcritics.org/archives/2008/12/07/173913.php

Dec. 5 – The Plot (character interview) http://theplotline.wordpress.com/2008/12/05/interview-with-homicide-detective-sam-harper-of-the-sam-harper-crime-mystery-series-by-marta-stephens/

Dec. 5 – Joanna Slan Blog. (guest post) http://joannaslan.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2008-12-07T07%3A20%3A00-08%3A00&max-results=1

Dec. 4 – The Plot (book spotlight) http://theplotline.wordpress.com/2008/12/04/

Dec. 3 -- MURDER BY 4 blog http://murderby4.blogspot.com/2008/12/networking-in-nutshell.html

Dec. 3 – The Writer’s Life (guest post) http://thewriterslife.blogspot.com/2008/11/guest-blogger-marta-stephens-gives-tips.html

Introducing Writers on Blog Talk Radio (radio interview) http://www.blogtalkradio.com/KimS/2008/11/20/Marta-Stephens-author-of-THE-DEVIL-CAN-WAIT

Dec. 3 – Book Marketing Buzz http://bookmarketingbuzz.wordpress.com/2008/12/03/book-marketing-minute-networking-with-marta-stephens

Dec. 2 – The Dark Phantom (guest post) http://thedarkphantom.wordpress.com/2008/12/02/guest-post-the-stuff-that-makes-characters-jump-off-the-page-by-martha-stephens

Rose and Thorn Reviews (book review) http://roseandthornreviews.blogspot.com/2008/11/book-review-devil-can-wait-by-marta_24.html

Dec. 1 – Fiction Scribe (interview) www.fictionscribe.com/interview-with-marta-stephens-author-of-the-devil-can-wait

Dec. 1 – Joylene Nowell Butler (interview) http://cluculzwriter.blogspot.com/2008/11/interview-with-author-marta-stephens.html




* * *
Marta Stephens, author of the Sam Harper Crime Mystery series published by BeWrite Books (UK).
SILENCED CRY (2007)Honorable Mention, 2008 New York Book Festival, Top Ten, 2007 Preditors and Editors Reader Poll (mystery)
To learn more about the author and her works visit http://www.martastephens-author.com/

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

You're invited to my December Virtual Book Tour!

The dress code is casual. Slide your feet into those warm house slippers, grab a cup of coffee and stop by for a visit. The purpose, of course, is to promote the second book in the Sam Harper Crime Mystery series, "The Devil Can Wait."

Many thanks to Dorothy Thompson and Pump Up Your Book Promotions for oganizing the tour that officially kicked-off yesterday.

The first of several articles, interviews, and reviews of "The Devil Can Wait" have been published. You'll find them at the following links.

Dec. 1 - Fiction Scribe (interview) http://www.fictionscribe.com/

Dec. 1 -- Joylene Nowell Butler (interview) http://cluculzwriter.blogspot.com/

Dec. 2 - The Dark Phantom (guest post) http://www.thedarkphantom.wordpress.com/

Rose and Thorn Reviews (book review) http://roseandthornreviews.blogspot.com/2008/11/book-review-devil-can-wait-by-marta_24.html

You'll find the entire tour schedule listed on my website: http://www.martastephens-author.com/Events.htm as well as all the reviews the book has received thus far.

I hope you'll have a chance to stop by and visit with me for a minute or two on this month-long tour. I'll certainly look forward to your comments and there's a little something in it for you! Leave a comment at the blog stops and you could win a FREE virtual book tour if you're a published author with a recent release or a $50 Amazon gift certificate if you are not published.

And may I beg a favor? My book cover was featured as the cover of the week from 11/10-11/14 on Erin Aislinn's website. Now it's competing against the other three books featured in November for a vote to win November cover of the month.

If you've already voted, thank you!! If you'd like to, it's easy to do. Just go to http://www.erinaislinn.com/BookCoveroftheMonth.htm find the book cover for "The Devil Can Wait" and click on the link next to it. It will generate an e-mail for you to send in your vote. Everyone who votes will be eligible to receive a free copy of the winning entry.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Christmas Murder Scavenger Hunt

Work the Clues!
The Devil Can Wait
Another Sam Harper Crime Mystery
Marta Stephens

Nine bodies, a cursed relic linked to a Christmas Eve prophecy, and no suspects. While homicide detective Sam Harper hunts down the guilty, YOU can track the clues in “The Devil Can Wait” for a chance to win an autographed copy of “Silenced Cry,” the book that launched the Sam Harper Crime Mystery series and received honorable mention at the 2008 New York Book Fair.

If you’re up to the challenge, just follow these five easy steps and submit your entry by Christmas Eve 2008.

1) Read Sam Harper’s note titled “From the Desk of Detective Harper” that is posted on the home page of my website.

2) Throughout this article are quotes taken directly from the second book in the Sam Harper Crime Mystery series, “The Devil Can Wait” -- one quote for each week of Harper’s case. Keep in mind that the book is written in 3rd person and this article is written in first, thus some variance applies.

3) E-mail your answers to: http://us.mc631.mail.yahoo.com/mc/compose?to=samharper@bewrite.net by midnight on December 24, 2008, with the following information:

  • Write down each quote and the page number where you found it in the book. Both items must be included to be eligible.
  • Send me a picture in jpg format of yourself holding my book. Please include your first name (last name optional) and tell me where the picture was taken (city and/or state or country). The picture of your smiling face holding this great book will be posted on the photo gallery of fans on my website.

4) Hey, but this isn’t all about me! If you are a published author, feel free to include the name of your book and a link to your website or blog for a bit of cross promotion!


Everyone who accurately lists, 1) all the quotes and 2) the page numbers where the quotes are found in “The Devil Can Wait” will receive a free e-book of “Silenced Cry.” And don't forget to send me your photograph holding my book!

One name will be drawn from this group of winners to receive an autographed copy of “Silenced Cry” along with other cool stuff to enhance your next reading experience! The winners will be announced on December 31, by direct e-mail. The winners’ names will also be posted on my website.

“Silenced Cry” ~ Honorable mention at the 2008 New York Book Festival, top ten in the 2007 Preditors & Editors Reader Poll.

Purchasing Information for:

“The Devil Can Wait”
ISBN 978-1-905202-86-7
316 pages

The paperback is available from online shops like B&N, BAM, Borders, Amazon, or your favorite neighborhood shop (just give them the ISBN number). Autographed copies are also available directly from me (while my supply lasts) by writing to: samharper@bewrite.net. Please make the subject of your e-mail: A Christmas Murder Scavenger Hunt.

The e-book is available at:
BeWrite Books
Diesel e-books

Good luck and feel free to share this post with the mystery lovers in your life!

Monday, November 10, 2008

LIVE Interview on Blog Talk Radio Today!

Throughout the months of November and December, I will be participating in a number of interviews and events to help launch, “The Devil Can Wait.”

Join me today, November 10, 2008, 10 AM (CST), on COFFEE WITH AN AUTHOR, an interactive, live Internet talk-radio show on http://blogtalkradio.com/i-just-finished. The show is hosted on Blog Talk Radio by http://www.ijustfinished.com/. Please follow this link to read the press release: http://www.ijustfinished.com/blog/?p=105

The archived link to the program will be posted on my website http://www.martastephens-author.com/ later today.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

I was preparing for a talk at one of our local libraries last week and as always, I tried to anticipate the types of questions those in the group might ask. One point of interest that always comes up is Internet marketing/exposure. Since one of the best tools at my fingertips is my website, I decided to take a look at the number of visitors I had received since I launched it on March 12, 2007. The count: 21,786 visitors (not hits--visitors) from 109 countries. Man, if I couldn't only turn those numbers into sales!

I'm not entirely surprised by the figures. The site has always received a high volume of traffic, but knowing this is why I update my site regularly, include a variety of articles and information, and try to make it as easy to navigate as possible.

When I designed the site, my primary goal was and still is to promote the main character in my series, homicide detective, Sam Harper. Aside from the expected "Author Bio" and my articles, it's his voice readers will find on my site. The home page allows the reader to sit a spell with Harper and "listen" to him talk about his current case. Lately, "The Devil Can Wait" has been on his mind. This case was declassified (released) this week which makes him very happy because now he can tell you all about it.

The following message is taken from my home page and titled:
"From the Desk of Detective Harper."

It's snowing again. Big wet flakes plunge from the evening sky to the streets below. From my fourth floor window the scenery looks as peaceful as the pictures on the Christmas cards Emma keeps on her desk. But the new layer of snow reminds me of the bodies piling up in the morgue. I close my eyes-each victim's face flashes before them.

I curse under my breath and try to make sense of the killings.

Superstitions and biblical prophesies-old wives' tales told to scare the shit out of weak men, and innocent children. Delusions of twisted beliefs rule the mind, poison the heart, and push unsuspecting fools to the brink of insanity.

To hell with what anyone says. There's nothing supernatural about those boys we pulled out of the bay. They were dead long before their bodies surfaced and washed ashore. It was the water and natural processes, not demons that left us with little more than the discarded remnants of a madman's fury. Yet the crimes are precise, planned like a well-choreographed dance, but even the most deliberate acts of violence are rarely perfect.

On the streets, tinsel and bright colored lights can't mask the undercurrent of fear that has spread through the city and reporters are pressing for answers. All I need to hear is a slip of the tongue-just one mindless deed and the killer is mine. But solutions are in short supply and every minute measures another segment of time without answers. One inaccurate statement from me is all it would take to feed the media frenzy. This pack of journalists can lick their lips and starve before I'll give them a crumb to feed on.

It's later than I intended to stay. I've thumbed through the case file a million times and the lack of evidence stings like a sharp blow to the jaw. Facts seem distorted, leads haven't panned out. Just when I thought I was close, the evidence pointed in a different direction. A familiar, unsettling jerk in the pit of my gut yanks harder with each ring of my cell. I know what's coming. Don't need to answer the call to know the killer has struck again. This time, that nagging little voice in the back of my head tells me I'm in for a long ugly chase down a narrow path that leads straight into hell.

Sam Harper

"The Devil Can Wait" November 3, 2008, ISBN: 978-1-905202-86-7
The second book in the Sam Harper Crime Mystery Series

For an excerpt of "The Devil Can Wait," please visit: http://www.martastephens-author.com/...it_EXCERPT.htm

Sunday, November 02, 2008

"The Devil Can Wait" Launch Date

© Marta Stephens 2008 all rights reserved
Released November 3, 2008, by BeWrite Books (UK)

Thumb through the pages of your favorite book. Now, look close between the lines. That’s where the author bled onto the pages and wove together a mystic world of fiction fed by life experiences. Every line of narrative and section of dialogue holds a thimbleful of truth. The second book in the Sam Harper Crime Mystery series is no exception. THE DEVIL CAN WAIT was forged from the memory of an unholy event as frightening as it was intriguing. It’s a tale about belief, unholy forces, and one man’s determination to stop an obsessed killer.

The story behind the story involved a quarrel and a cursed black pearl ring that nearly killed the object of a jilted young man’s affection. Filled with resentment, he begged her to take the ring as a parting gesture. Within days of accepting his gift, the young woman fell victim to a number of life-threatening accidents that came in quick succession. She survived each incident, but evil remained a constant threat to her life. It was only after she destroyed the black pearl ring that all appeared to return to normal.

Such was the spark behind THE DEVIL CAN WAIT; fiction with a taste of the unexplained. I was an impressionable eight-year-old, unable to distinguish fact from fiction, yet that event seared itself into my mind and eventually gave birth to THE DEVIL CAN WAIT. Can inanimate objects receive and transmit energies through a single touch? Is the good or evil nature of a person a predictor of luck or misfortune?

Years later, I can neither prove nor disprove that curses exist, yet I’m left to wonder what truths have slipped between the pages of this Sam Harper mystery that kept critical e-mails from reaching my editor? What power made manuscript files disappear and Internet connections break off for days at a time without rhyme or reason? Coincidence? I thought it was, until the literary contract sent to my publisher at the same street address I’ve used for several years found its way back into my mailbox three months later marked, “Insufficient address.” Subsequent mailing attempts met the same fate, yet my greeting card arrived at her office without a hitch. I can’t explain these things nor is it clear why the first three artists who were eager to work on the book cover had to stop soon after starting due to … pressing events that forced them to quit.

In THE DEVIL CAN WAIT, the city of Chandler, Massachusetts is plunged into terror when the bodies of three local teenagers wash ashore. While homicide detective Sam Harper hunts down the guilty, a sinister plot emerges overseas. From the Vatican to the jungles of South America, a cursed black pearl ring, the demonic prophecy it represents, and the men who pursue its powers find their unfortunate way into Harper’s turf.

Enthralled by the ring’s story and a front-page spread, newspaper reporter Jennifer Blake agrees to pick up the ring at a local pawnshop for her former college professor. When she does, unforeseen events shoot Blake to the top of Harper's prime suspect lists. Soon, the seemingly unrelated cases converge and the heat is on for Harper to expose the truth behind a Vatican secret and stop the self-righteous man who does the unthinkable in the name of God.

Did the sound of keystrokes tapping life into THE DEVIL CAN WAIT wake a slumbering presence from the depth of obscurity where holiness clashes against the dark and profane? I’ll let you, the reader, be the judge. The only certainty is that THE DEVIL CAN WAIT can wait no more. It’s here, so light a candle, take a sip of your favorite brew, ease into that over-stuffed chair, and immerse yourself in the pages of THE DEVIL CAN WAIT—if you dare.

* * *

Marta Stephens writes crime mystery/suspense. THE DEVIL CAN WAIT, and SILENCED CRY are available online at familiar shops such as all the Amazons, Barnes & Noble, Borders, Books-a-Million, and Powells. Other locations include, but are not limited to those listed on her website at http://www.martastephens-author.com/. Excerpts from the Sam Harper Crime Mysteries and reviews are also available on the author’s website.

THE DEVIL CAN WAIT (November 3, 2008)
© Marta Stephens 2008
ISBN: 978-1-905202-86-7
316 Pages

SILENCED CRY (April 2007)
© Marta Stephens 2007
ISBN: 978-1-905202-72-0
279 Pages
Honorable Mention, 2008 New York Book FestivalTop Ten, 2007 Preditors and Editors Reader Poll (mystery)
Published internationally by BeWrite Books, UK, 32 Bryn Road South, Wigan, Lancashire, WN4 8QR.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Demons, Curses, and Other Weird Things That Go Bump In the Night.

© Marta Stephens 2008 all rights reserved

One fact few people know about me is that my paternal grandfather, Marcelo Ruggero, was a stage and film actor in Buenos Aires during the 1930s to the mid 1950s. He was a local sensation in his days. By the time I was born, he had long retired, but his stories lived on through my father. I was always particularly drawn to the tales about the strange things that often plagued the crew and actors during certain productions; illnesses, props disappearing, etc.

Actors often say they have to “get into character” in order to not only understand who they are trying to portray but also the character’s motivation. Immersing him- or herself into the role of the character is what ultimately brings the character to life on screen. As a writer, I understand this principle quite well. I talk to my characters more often than not, don’t you?

But what happens when the plot is not of this world? When demons play a supporting role and/or are the focus of attention? Recently, I was talking to a good friend of mine and retired journalist about some of the odd and unexplained things that happened after I submitted THE DEVIL CAN WAIT to my publisher. None of the incidents were life-threatening and individually, each could have easily been brushed off as coincidence. Still, something didn’t feel right and thus I decided to make a list and noticed a pattern begin to form. At every critical stage of production some unexplained occurrence caused a delay making me wonder if someone or something was trying to prevent the inevitable.

My friend listened intently and then had this interesting fact to share with me. “Years ago I was lucky enough to get together with Gregory Peck, Lee Remick and Billy Whitelaw at the close of filming for The Omen. They told me scary yarns about what went wrong on set – and even the destruction of a whole spool of key footage when a light plane was struck by lightning. It seemed Hell itself was on the job, doing all it could to put a spoiler on the famous 666 movie.”

In many ways I’m not alone, but for now, I'm content in knowing that I hold the winning hand because like it or not, THE DEVIL CAN WAIT will arrive on November 3, 2008, and Homicide Detective Sam Harper is again on the move against a formidable adversary.

* * *

You'll find the blurb, excerpt, updates, and reviews at http://www.martastephens-author.com/.

Marta Stephens writes crime mystery/suspense. SILENCED CRY is available online at familiar shops such as all the Amazons, Barnes & Noble, Borders, Books-a-Million, and Powells. Other locations include, but are not limited to those listed on her website.

THE DEVIL CAN WAIT, BeWrite Books (UK) November 3, 2008

SILENCED CRY (2007)Honorable Mention, 2008 New York Book FestivalTop Ten, 2007 Preditors and Editors Reader Poll (mystery).

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


© Marta Stephens 2008 all rights reserved

... to my next book launch!
November 3 ~ THE DEVIL CAN WAIT ~ Book two in the Sam Harper series

I don't know about you, but long after the novel is written, edited, and is put through a rigorous proofreading by several people including my trusted critiquers, my publisher and 2-3 editors, I worry and begin to second-guess myself. You know, What if I change that sentence to read like this? Does this chapter drag? Is the dialogue ... should I ... Maybe I could ...

Eventually I stop, but the questions seem to go on and on. Please tell me I'm not alone!

I guess if asked what it feels like to pour my heart and soul into a manuscript and then wait for reader reaction I'd have to respond with this: Think back to your first school dance. Remember the butterflies and the pent up excitement knowing you were going to have the best time of your life, only to have the euphoric feeling get shattered by the dreaded thought,

"What if no one asks me to dance?"

Okay, so maybe it's not that nerve-wracking, but I dare say that most authors probably do catch themselves holding their breath just bit until the reviews start flowing in. With well over 50 review copies in circulation, the magic in my neck of the woods started to happen over the past several days with this review written by Lynn Pritchett, Suite101.com Media Inc., Contributing Writer:

"Is it prophecy fulfilled or selfishness, greed, and bad choices? . . THE DEVIL CAN WAIT is a suspenseful freight train of action . . . Can the Devil really wait? . . . If you read one book this season make it THE DEVIL CAN WAIT . . . reminiscent of . . ."

Please do leave Lynn a comment!

* * *

November 3, 2008
ISBN: 978-1-905202-86-7
Bewrite Books (UK)
Paperback: 316 pages

Marta Stephens writes crime mystery/suspense. Pre-order an autographed copy of THE DEVIL CAN WAIT at http://www.martastephens-author.com/.

Also available after the release date in online shops like Amazon, B&N, BAM, or give your favorite bookstore owner the ISBN and ask them to order a copy!

Honorable Mention, 2008 New York Book Festival
Top Ten, 2007 Preditors and Editors Reader Poll (mystery)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

What's Your Challenge?

© Marta Stephens, 2008 all rights reserved

My darling girl ... when are you going to understand that being normal is not necessarily a virtue? It rather denotes a lack of courage. ~Aunt France, Practical Magic

Aside from being one of my favorite and fun movies, I think this quote from Practical Magic applies to every aspect of writing. Let's face it, we writers aren’t necessarily “normal” and it does take courage to expose our inner soul to the world.

For those not familiar with my work, I write crime mystery/suspense and up until a few years ago, my work was something I shared only with family and friends. Close friends. People who love me; in whose eyes I can do no wrong. It was a safe place to be, but a little voice in the back of my head nudged me forward. I expanded my circle to include an amazing group of talented fellow authors -- the real test of endurance. It wasn’t long before my writing evolved from a pastime, to a passion, and now an addiction. A good addiction because perseverance has led to the release of the second book in my Sam Harper series, “The Devil Can Wait” on November 3. So to those who wonder if your dream of becoming a published author is realistic, it is. Just keep at it.

What keeps me going? The challenge to top my previous attempt; to write a better book, develop a smarter marketing campaign, create an attention-grabbing book trailer and a captivating cover. Why? Because once a writer is published, he or she becomes a public figure and anything less than the best is a step in the wrong direction.

Maybe I am obsessed, as a few special friends “affectionately” dare to call me (admit it, you have). Do I hit my mark every time? No, of course not. No one does, but unless we try, unless we ask the questions and charter a new path, we’ll never know our full potential. So crawl out of the comfort zone and feel the edge of an uncharted road beneath your feet and see where it leads.

* * *

Marta Stephens writes crime mystery/suspense. Her books are available online at familiar shops such as all the Amazons, Barnes & Noble, Borders, Books-a-Million, and Powells. Other locations include, but are not limited to those listed on her website.

THE DEVIL CAN WAIT (November 3, 2008)

SILENCED CRY (2007)Honorable Mention, 2008 New York Book FestivalTop Ten, 2007 Preditors and Editors Reader Poll (mystery)

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Homicide Detective, Sam Harper and I went out for drinks the other night. He ordered his usual Walker Red--I sipped on my Bloody Mary--heavy on the Mary.

Was it business or pleasure, you ask?

Actually... it's always both.

We talked about the success of his first book, "Silenced Cry" and our plans for the next in the Harper series. He's usually contrary, but he seemed to be keen about the promotional ideas I have in mind for his current case, "The Devil Can Wait."

He assures me the case will be solved by November 2008. At that time, you'll have full access to the complete case file and will have a chance to see for yourself how he worked the clues. For now though, all you need to know is that he's doing his best to capture the guilty before any more bodies land in the morgue.

I've known Harper for several years and if there's one thing he's good at, it's his ability to read people. Said he's been making a study of you, by the way. Thinks you, his fans, will want to read the story behind the story. You know, all those classified, insider notes that might not get into the books. After a few more drinks and batting more options around, he insisted on having his own fan club group in Facebook. Can you believe it?

What can I say? Harper can be difficult at times so won't you please humor him? Please stop by, join the group and ask him some questions, post your comments. Trust me, satisfying his little whims will make my life as his author/publicist SO much easier! Hope to see you there!

* * * * * *

Marta Stephens writes crime mystery/suspense. SILENCED CRY is available right here at Amazons.

SILENCED CRY (2007) ~ Honorable Mention, 2008 New York Book Festival ~ Top Ten, 2007 Preditors and Editors Reader Poll (mystery)

THE DEVIL CAN WAIT ~ November 2008.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Vocal Praise

Review by Thomas Fortenberry (Charlotte, NC) 8/12/08

"Silenced Cry is an excellent book. There is a neat new group of mystery authors emerging, and Marta Stephens is smack dab in the middle of them. Do yourself a favor and get on board this train. Sam's tough, his life and outlook are tough, but then suddenly, once you're inside the pages with him, you discover that whole other side. Like the piano-playing. Or Dad. Things can get nice, soft, even desperate and loving, before you know it. Can't wait to see what he does, or what happens to him, next. This is an amazing debut from a rising mystery star."

View other reviews of SILENCED CRY on Amazon.com and on my website.

Monday, July 21, 2008

July 2008 Update

Life can only be described as having gone from hectic to frantic. For those who don’t know, I work in human resources at a state university where I have for these past several months juggled two marketing and design projects in addition to all the daily things that come across my desk. I love working the projects but the deadlines can be nerve-wracking at times. On the home front, I move my 93-year old father from a nursing facility into and Alzheimer’s unit. I’m eternally thankful to the new facility for making the move as smooth and easy for him as possible! He’s doing well, and I have peace of mind that this was an excellent move for him.

With respect to my writing, my very best news is that my debut novel, SILENCED CRY, received honorable mention at the 2008 New York Book Fair. I heard about the contest late last year and although I was excited about submitting my novel, as the deadline drew near, I began to hesitate. After all, what were the odds of getting noticed among ... how many other excellent entries, right? Anyway, my entry had to be postmarked by Sunday, May 25 - I mailed it on May 23 - nothing like waiting until the last possible minute. LOL Click here for the complete list of winners.

The second book in my Sam Harper Crime Mystery series, THE DEVIL CAN WAIT, is in my publisher’s hands. We hope to have the ARC ready in a few weeks. I am pleased and grateful that all those who reviewed SILENCED CRY have agreed to review an ARC of this second book. In the evenings, I’ve split my time between drafting out book cover ideas, working on a new marketing/promotional plan, and contacting potential reviewers. I have my query letter typed so as soon as the ARC is ready, I’ll be set to go. If anyone is interested in giving THE DEVIL CAN WAIT an advanced review, please contact me at ma50step@yahoo.com.I’ve started work on the third book in the HARPER series, GRAVE WITNESS (working title) and have also been busy critiquing a friend’s manuscript which I hope to complete very soon. ;)

A sundry of other writing commitments thankfully continue to find their way onto my desk. Recently, I’ve been answering several interview questions. The first was conducted by author, Anne K. Edwards for the VOICE IN THE DARK section of the MYSTERY FICTION NET site. You’ll find it by scrolling down to the second interview on that page.The other interview was conducted by author, Terry Ervin. It will be featured at the end of August in Fiction Factor. Click on that link to register for the free newsletter! I’ll be sure to send out a reminder when it comes out! A third feature was published in Twisted Tongue Magazine issue 10, by author/editor/ publisher, Neil Marr. You can download the PDF version from: http://www.lulu.com/content/2850840

MURDER BY 4, of course, is at the top of my daily “to do” list. We’ve continued to receive well over 1,000 unique visitors per month since our launch in February 2008. We’ve had amazing guest writers and many more scheduled clear into fall so please be sure you stop by often and post your comments! We’ve been a host site for several virtual book tours and hope those of you who have been featured guests will continue to stop and visit with us. So what’s new at the MURDER BY 4 blog? It’s been nominated for consideration into the Writers Digest 101 Best Websites: 2009. More on this later. Hope we can count on your vote when the time comes! You’ll also notice we’ve add some new easy to subscribe links on the side bar.

As a final note, I’ll be signing copies of SILENCED CRY at an authors’ showcase on August 9 from 9 a.m. – 11 a.m. at the Indiana State Fair. I have another speaking/signing engagement on October 12 at the Muncie (IN) Kennedy Branch Library. If you’re in the neighborhood on either date, be sure to stop by.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Blank Page

© Marta Stephens 2008, all rights reserved

Long before I decided to write fiction, my first love was art, so I can't help but compare the writing process to the method I use when I oil paint. In both instances I begin with a white surface that begs to be filled. I start with an outline of the shapes (my plot), determine the perspective points (point of view character), and then decide the direction of the light and shadows (those wonderful subplots, twists, and turns). Obviously there's more to consider when we write, but all the same, it is a layering process of writing, editing, and letting the prose rest. If you were to paint an object in the foreground of the canvas before the background was dry to the touch, you'd end up with a muddied mess. Writing is no different. It can't be rushed.

When I start working on a new novel I consider the crime first. What happened, who did it, how, when, and why? It's essential to the development of the plot. Next comes the cast of characters. Several of the characters such as Homicide Detective Sam Harper and his partner Dave Mann appear in all of my books, however, the villains change and I usually introduce two or three other protagonists. I write back stories on each new character to understand their motivation. A brief synopsis will give me a rough idea of the storyline; the order of the events and how I want the book to end. Details don't play a role at this point of the planning, all I'm trying to do is understand the big picture rather than the individual scenes and of course, all of this is apt to change as the story evolves. I also find that making a list of the chapters along with a brief 1-2 line description of what happens in each helps me keep an eye on the timeline. The characters and deciding how their paths will cross is the next critical step -- developing the subplots.

The second and most important thing for me to do is to get inside the character's head. I have to understand his motivation, what has led him to this point, how does the character feel physically, mentally, spiritually, and what external factors are affecting his behavior or decisions. Without a clear understanding of these things, it's hard to know how the character will act, react, and cope with the situation he is in. I also try to get a feel for what good or bad things are going on outside of the character's control that may affect him emotionally (i.e.: friends, family, job, relationships, weather, etc.).

Of course, nothing is written in stone and several factors may come into play, but once I'm comfortable with the direction the manuscript is going in, I can usually type a chapter a day, let it rest for several days and then go back and work on the edits. I may go through this process six or seven times a chapter before I'm ready to move on to the next one. Eventually I'll read the entire manuscript and start tweaking the prose and adding details.

My method certainly doesn't guarantee that there won't be rewrites. There are always plenty, but regardless of the process used, there are no fast and easy solutions or magic wands to completing a novel. It's a never-ending process that takes patience, practice, and perseverance.

* * *

I'm an author of crime mystery. My debut novel, SILENCED CRY (2007), is available from several online shops like, Amazon, B&N, Borders, MAM. The second in the Sam Harper series, THE DEVIL CAN WAIT (yup, changed the title), will be available fall 2008. I'm currently working on the third book in the series and hope to have it out in 2009.

You'll find more of my writing posted every Wednesday on MURDER BY 4.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Writing a Series

© Marta Stephens 2008 all rights reserved

I never intended to write a series. It just happened -- couldn't get enough of the characters. But whenever I mention that my Sam Harper books are a series, the same questions keep coming up: "Are they a sequel? Does one book pick up where the other leaves off?"

No, although subtle references are made in each subsequent book to previous characters or events, the books in my series are stand alone works. The reader will be able to read any one of the Sam Harper Crime Mystery books and know the characters well without having to read the previous books, but please, don't let that stop you!!

Although I write crime, the relationships between characters play a major role in their development. One reviewer put it like this: " ... the characters are real - they hurt, they fall in love, they suffer angst and explode with anger." Therefore, what will be obvious to those who begin with book one, SILENCED CRY, is how the characters mature and grow on personal and professional levels throughout the series. The police captain forces Harper and Mann into a partnership in SILENCED CRY which of course causes some friction. Although they have their differences, they eventually work things out. So too, they learn from each other which is true to how real life relationships work.

The beauty of a series is that they feature the same set of characters who are placed in different situations. They are allowed to respond to new challenges based on previous experiences. The cast of regulars such as Sam Harper, his father Walt, Sam's detective partner, Dave Mann, forensics expert, Carter Grave and crusty medical examiner, Jack Fowler will help usher in new criminals and a few interesting players in each subsequent book. Although the plots may change drastically, each book will have its own unique set of twists and turns and impossible crimes for Harper to solve. And dare I mention it? In the second book Harper falls for a woman who drives him crazy but makes him weak at the knees.

For me, writing a series has been a labor of love but not without trials and errors. I was fortunate to stumble onto my characters early in my writing career. It's taken time, however, to really get to know them but I find that with each new book, their dialogue and interactions with other characters has become easier to write. Sometime, if I'm lucky, they dictate the story which makes things easier and allows me the chance to focus on developing the plot.

SILENCED CRY was a series of "firsts." Like all new writers, I was learning the craft, trying to create believable characters, attempting to find my voice, sorting through "my" style of writing, while creating an interesting, complicated plot that would hold the reader's interest. Although I continued to work on all of those points, by the time the second book became a reality, I had settled into a rhythm and the story poured out of me--first draft, 63,000 words in 83 days. Granted, I spent the next several months editing it, but it was tremendously fun book to write.

Now as I work on the third book, I've discovered an exciting new idea to ponder. One of the new characters demands her own series and I'm faced with a unique (at least to me) challenge; to make sure that her characterization fits the plot and works well in this book but that traits will make her a strong, likeable protagonist in her own right.

Monday, March 03, 2008

The Perfect Crime
© Marta Stephens 2008 all rights reserved

Ever wonder what it’d be like to hatch a deliciously evil plot? A devious plan so utterly out of character that you’d remain above suspicion? I bet you haven’t. Admit it, you’ve had those days when the little, insignificant annoyances build up. Two days ago you could shoo them away like a pesky fly. Today, they’re that speck of dust in your eye that grinds into your flesh from the other side – it jabs and nudges you over the edge. A vicious scheme starts to spin and weaves ugly thoughts through your head. Every vivid detail of the crime from beginning to end takes form. Suddenly a grin slips across your lips. The target, your victim, is well in sight still you wait. It could take weeks maybe months before the perfect moment arrives; that split second when your prey least expects your strike. At that instant, a swift, clean move eliminates the offender and you, the killer, leave the scene unnoticed.

Except, murders are rarely planned, they’re seldom clean, and the killer always leaves something behind. A strand of hair, a scab or careless fingerprint, a trace of saliva on a cigarette butt or on the edge of a drinking glass is all it takes. One slip and you’re done.

Regardless of how random the crime might seem, there is usually a motive. It could be as immediate as an impulsive response to an argument or as obscured as a childhood experience. Once I decide who committed the crime in SILENCED CRY, my challenge as an author was to understand the killer’s motive -- his madness. The hardest part, of course, was making the killer invisible until the last possible moment.

My writing has been influenced as much by film as it has been by literature. One of my favorite past times, in fact, is to watch a suspense or thriller and try to guess who perpetrated the crime. I’m usually good at fingering the right person, but I hate to be right. There’s nothing better than to not see it coming. Sitting on the edge of my seat with one expectation and getting blown away by the truth is half the fun. Two movies that immediately come to mind are, HIGH CRIMES, and PRESUMED INNOCENT. Both films successfully divert the viewer’s attention from the killer. In both cases, the charges against the defendant are dismissed, and just when I thought the cases were solved and nothing else could possibly happen -- it did.

In chapter one of my novel, a shot is fired and the first of several victims is killed. In chapter 10, Homicide is called to investigate a cold case. Workers find the skeletal remains of an infant entombed in a wall of an apartment building marked for demolition. Two murders, no connection, no motive and still no suspect. The killer’s only advantage is time. The Baby Doe murder was committed years before DNA was admissible in a court of law. It was an era when all a killer had to do was to lurk in the shadows, watch his back for a while, and if need be, pay someone off to keep quiet.

The investigation heats up when Homicide Detective Sam Harper discovers a connection between the suspects in the Baby Doe case and his late partner’s murder. Evidence thrusts him ahead to unveil a host of crimes and a multitude of suspects. This modern day detective and his team of forensic scientists know all they need is that single hair, a sample of semen, or a trace of saliva to pin-point the guilty.

With the criminals safely behind bars, the cases appear to be solved until Harper’s attention is drawn to an otherwise ordinary event in the killer’s life. It’s an unlikely slip but to the trained eye it is as damning as a bloody fingerprint. A key turns, the lock flips open, and the truth flashes across Harper’s mind with the force of rippling white lightning. He discovers the trigger, what began the throng of crimes, each intended to conceal another. Yes, the killer committed the perfect crime and for nearly two decades his house of cards stood erect until a seasoned eye and DNA fingerprinting revealed far more than the killer’s identity.

The SILENCED CRY book cover is eligible for the 2007 Cover of the Year award. Voting ends April 15. Every voter will be entered in a drawing for the winning title.

For excerpt and reviews go to http://www.martastephens-author.com/
For a murderous good read, go to http://murderby4.blogspot.com/

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Research: How Much is Too Much?

Several years ago, while I sat in a college writing class, the professor instructed us to “write what you know.” What student/writer hasn’t heard those dreaded words? I remember thinking if that were the case, I would never write.

I have what most would consider a normal life; married, raised two great children, went to college, have hobbies, and have been gainfully employed all my adult life. But this could be anyone’s life. If I stuck to the “rule,” I’d have nothing to write about -- nothing anyone would want to read, that is. However, I do have a passion for a good suspenseful mystery, the page-turner that yanks you to the edge of your seat, grabs you by the throat, and leaves you breathlessly begging for more.

“Write what you know.” The words popped into my head again as I typed the opening paragraph of SILENCED CRY.The reality is, most fiction writers I know have never been involved in the type of situations they force their characters into (murder, theft, espionage, smuggling, kidnappings, imprisonment, etc.). So where does a writer start? Research. Simply put, he or she owes it to his or her readers to create a story that is absolutely believable.The question is how much research is needed? The answer: As much as it takes to make the story plausible. The problem is that research is a twosided sword. Not enough and the story will lack the essential truths needed to make it real. Too much and the story will sag with excess information.

A while back I read a book that held me until the last three chapters. After that, the bottom fell out of the plot when the suspended disbelief disintegrated into a convenient ending. The story wasn’t a police procedural, but a police investigation was implied. Yet critical evidence at the scene was overlooked which indicated to me the author had not thoroughly researched crime scene procedurals. Not that an entire chapter should have been dedicated to the investigation performed at the scene, but the oversight was glaring. A crucial piece of evidence that any crime scene investigator would have immediately bagged from a murder scene was never mentioned by the police. The omission felt like a ploy to fool the reader into thinking the guilty was innocent. It worked, but the tactic backfired because it also left this reader knowing the author hadn’t done his homework and rushed the ending. The real crime was that he told the reader who was guilty without giving the reader an opportunity to see the evidence mound and draw his or her own conclusions. Isn’t that what mysteries are all about? A gradual build up of suspense, peppered with clues and followed by a WOW ending?

This is an example where a bit more research, the addition of a few words could have changed the complexity of the entire novel and would have made me love the book.

Research doesn’t mean the writer must force every bit of information he or she discovers into the story. That’s what is commonly referred to as “information dump.” Only a portion of the research, that which gives a scene meaning, should be used. This means that an author may read pages of text from several sources to ensure the accuracy of a single sentence to give the work a flavor of authenticity -- make it believable.

To read additional comments on this subject vitist MURDER BY 4

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The book cover of SILENCED CRY won August 2007 cover of the month.

I received word today that all the 2007 covers will now compete for 2007 BOOK COVER OF THE YEAR.

Every voter will be entered in a drawing for the winning title. Voting is simple, and the instructions are on the voting page at: http://www.erinaislinn.com/BookCoveroftheYear2007.htm

The voting page is now ready, and SILENCED CRY is awaiting votes.

Voting will run through APRIL 15th!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

New Writers' Blog

I'm thrilled to announce that I'm now part of a new team of authors at Murder by 4. One of us writes thrillers, one writes crime/suspense, and two write cozy mysteries.
Our aim is to give readers an insider's look at the journeys we've taken, the lessons learned on the road to publication, and what it's like to continue to write and promote our works.

What brought us together? Aside from our friendship, we each have an unquenchable thirst to create memorable characters – the stories whose truths will linger long in the minds of readers, but more important, a desire to share with readers and authors alike. Readers will find interesting articles, author interviews, articles by guest bloggers, reviews, and an insider's look at the publishing world.

Please save the link to your favorites and check in often while we whip the site into shape!

Monday, January 28, 2008

January 29, 2008
The Liar's Diary Blog Day

I've never met Patry Francis -- I hope to someday. But as a woman, a wife, a mother, and author, her couragous story touched me instantly. It's an honor to be a small part in the promtion of Patry Francis's recent novel and encourage you to follow the link at the bottom of this post to learn more about the author and writing.

by Patry Francis
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
ISBN number: 978-0-525-94990-9
Price: $24.95 (hardcover)
Review by Marta Stephens
Author of SILENCED CRY: A Sam Harper Crime Mystery

THE LIAR’S DIARY -- a compelling read akin to a walk through a house of mirrors. Just when you think you know, you don’t.

Jeanne Cross, a supportive wife, devoted/loving mother, and school secretary has the perfect life, or so she thinks until the flamboyant music teacher, Ali Mather, walks through the doors and into Jeanne’s dreary existence.

She is curiously fascinated by Ali’s uninhibited lifestyle – a woman who embodies everything she is not. When gossip spreads about Ali’s affairs and a stalker breaks into her home, Jeanne’s motherly instincts kick in. An unlikely, addictive friendship slowly forms that strains Jeanne’s relationship with her husband and son. The inseparable bond between the two women is threatened when Ali unexpectedly reveals an unthinkable truth about Jeanne’s family.

Tension mounts after her son is accused of the scandalous crime. Jeanne’s life and her perception of a model family crumble as she delves deeper into Ali’s death and the knowledge she took to her grave. Long-held secrets are unveiled and strip the layers of Jeanne’s perfect life down to its evil core.

Patry Francis’s exquisitely crafted work takes the reader for a convoluted, twisting ride into the realm of compulsive love and lies that pave the way to an unpredictable ending. The pages of THE LIAR’S DIARY are skillfully fashioned into interlocking subplots that are packed with suspense and clever revelations at every turn.

Look out though, ’cause in THE LIAR’S DIARY, nothing is as it seems.
Mario Acevedo
Susan Adrian
Samina Ali
Christa Allan
Joelle Anthony
Jorge Argueta
Melanie Avila
Tricia Ares
Terry Bain
Gail Baker - The Debutante Ball
Anjali Banerjee
Lauren Baratz-Logsted
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Carolyn Burns Bass
Brett Battles
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Pinckney Benedict
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Brenda Birch
Roberto Bonazzi
Raven Bower
Laura Bowers
Beatrice Bowles
Tara Bradford
Gayle Brandeis
Stacy Brazalovich
Susan Breen - Gotham Writers Workshops
Heather Brewer
Eve Bridburg - Zachary Shuster Harmsworth
Sassy Brit
Heatheraynne Brooks
Josie Brown
Pat Brown
Ruth Brown
Ken Bruen
Rachel Kramer Bussel
Aldo Calcagno
Austin S. Camacho
Bill Cameron
Lorenzo Carcaterra
Vincent Carrella
Karen DeGroot Carter
Rosemary Carstens
Cynthia Clark - Futures Mysterious Anthology Magazine
Jon Clinch
Kamela Cody
Oline H. Cogdill - Sun-Sentinal
Tish Cohen
Eileen Cruz Coleman
Myfanwy Collins
Laurie Connors - Penguin
Eileen Cook
Richard Cooper
David Corbett
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Bill Crider - Pop Culture Magazine
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Ann Mare Cummins
Sheila Curran
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Kelli Davis
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Jim DeFelice
Mike Dellosso
Katrina Denza
Bella DePaulo
Karen Dionne
Felicia Donovan
Julie Doughty - Dutton
Gerry Doyle
Firoozeh Dumas
Christine Eldrin
J.T. Ellison - Killer Year
Sheila Clover English - Circle of Seven Productions
Kate Epstein - the Epstein Literary Agency
Kathryn EsplinRachel Fershleiser at SMITH Magazine
Ryan Field
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William Floyd
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Jamie Ford
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Bob Gray - Shelf Awareness
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Eileen Hutton - Brilliance Audio
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International Thriller Writers
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Jen Jordan - Crimespree
Jungle Red Writers
Lesley Kagen
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Charles Kelly
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Merle Kessler
Kristy Kiernan - Southern Authors Blog
A.S. King
Jeff Kleinman - Folio Literary Management
Sandra Kring
R.D. Laban
Rebecca Laffar-Smith - Writers Roundabout
Clair Lamb
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Amy MacKinnon - The Writers Group
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Marcia Peterson - WOW! Women on Writing
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Janet Reid - FinePrint Literary Management
Kamilla Reid
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M.J. Rose - Buzz, Balls & Hype
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Harris Salat -Visual Thesaurus
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Maria Schneider - Writer’s Digest Magazine
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The Outfit
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Barbara Vey - Publishers Weekly
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Therese Walsh - Writer Unboxed
John Warner - Tow Books
Gary Wassner
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Sarah Weinman
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Dan Wickett - Emerging Writers Network
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Liz Wolfe
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Stephen Wylder
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Ernie Zelinski
Crystal Zevon

Please take a moment to visit these sites:

Saturday, January 05, 2008

SILENCED CRY makes it to 4th place in the P & E Reader's Poll -- Mystery Category

SILENCED CRY (2007) BeWrite Books (UK), voted into 4th place in the readers' poll voting on the Preditors and Editors website.
A huge thanks to all who voted!
ISBN: 978-1-905202-72-0
Available from:
Amazon (International)

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Interview Lonnie Cruse
Author of the Metropolis Mystery Series and the new Kitty Bloodworth, Fifty-Seven mystery

by Marta Stephens

MS: Lonnie, thanks so much for agreeing to be interviewed. Let me start by asking you to please share with us a little about when you made the decision to become a writer.
LC: Mmmm, long time ago, probably in my twenties. BUT I thought writers had to go to college for that and I hadn't, so I thought the journalism police would arrest me if I tried.

MS: Could you describe your writing journey?
LC: I wrote newsletter articles and our family history but never tried a novel. When I was fifty-five, Idecided to give it a try. I was beyond the age of fear of failure. Well, a little. I still fear it, but not asmuch.

MS: What would you say has been your greatest challenge and your greatest achievement as a writer?
LC: Greatest challenge was finding a publisher . . . twice. And surviving the collapse of the first publisher. Greatest achievement? Five books in print. It was a dream but I wasn't sure it would ever happen.

MS: What genre do you write in and what motivated you in that direction?
LC: I write cozy mystery, both amateur sleuth and law enforcement official. They are light, humorous reads. What motivated me in that direction is loving to read the same things. I've tried to read thrillers,suspense novels, etc, but either they scare the daylights out of me, or they’re so sad I have to stop reading. At my age, life is too short to stick with a book that brings me down. Rather be entertained than terrified.

MS: Who would you say has influenced you the most?
LC: Bill Crider, Anne Perry, Ann George, Donna Andrews, Barbara D'Amato.

MS: What would you say are your main concerns as a writer?
LC: Finding time to write, to promote what is already in print, and still find time for family and for my hobbies. The Internet eats up a lot of time, but it is sooo necessary for promotion. And for keeping up with what's going on in publishing.

MS: How do you deal with these concerns?
LC: I try to limit my memberships to writers or discussion groups that will help with my writing and not spend a lot of time just hanging out, chatting or surfing.

MS: Have your beliefs influenced the direction of your writing?
LC: Yes. I refuse to write anything I wouldn't want my children or grandchildren to read. Or anything graphically violent that might inspire someone to replicate that crime.

MS: What challenges do you see ahead of you?
LC: Keeping my two series fresh, keeping two series going, getting the job of writing done as I get older.

MS: I’m confident that you’ll do great, but how do you plan to deal with these challenges?
LC: I'm using 2008 as sort of a proving ground, meaning seeing how well the new series does. Fifty-Seven Heaven, the first in the new series, was just released by Five Star. I plan to put the other series, the Metropolis Mystery series, on the back burner in '08 and promote the new book. And submit the second to see if Five Star will contract for it. And finish the third in the series which I just started. At the end of the year I'll make some hard decisions about whether or not to keep the older series going and what to do with the new Kitty Bloodworth, '57 Chevy series.

MS: You’re a busy lady! When you begin a new project, how do you prepare for it?
LC: I gather up any newspaper articles I've cut out and saved in my research folder that match the story, plus any other research I need. I sit and think a lot. I write character descriptions. Then I either cluster ideas or write ideas of what could happen to my characters on index cards. Then I start writing.

MS: What writing schedule do you follow?
LC: I try to write 3-5 pages per day BEFORE email, but generally I wind up checking email first, sigh.

MS: What is your latest book about?
LC: Fifty-Seven Heaven is about baby boomers Kitty and Jack Bloodworth who take their trophy winning '57 Chevy to a local car show/contest and discover the body of Kitty's extremely irritating cousin in the trunk. Everyone they know has an alibi, but one of them must be lying. It took two months to write the rough draft (I was participating in a writer's challenge and won the prize, a LARGE box of various chocolates.) Then I spent several months polishing it, letting my critique group look at it, etc. Then I submitted it to Five Star and they contracted for it. It was eighteen months and two edits between contract and publication, December 12th. A friend suggested I submit to her publisher, Five Star, and knowing they had a good reputation, I did. I was thrilled when they accepted. They only publish in hardback and sell mostly to libraries, but I've sold in hardback before and I adore libraries, plus I can hand sell a lot of books on my own, so I think we'll do well together. I've really been promoting this book in the last few months.

MS: Which aspects of the work do you like the least and why? The most and why?
LC: Like the least? Asking for reviews or promoting my book to someone I don't know. Book signings are really hard. Sometimes a crowd shows up, sometimes no one comes. It's scary. Like the most? When the writing day is over and I read what I wrote and it makes me laugh.

MS: Please tell us what your next book will be about.
LC: Kitty and Jack visit Pigeon Forge, TN for a car show and meet a murderer. I adore the Pigeon Forge area, so it was a fun book to write.

MS: It’s been such a pleasure for me to interview you. Would you please share your thoughts about anything else you’d like to discuss.
LC: The thing that keeps me writing is readers who meet me in person or receiving email me to say how much they enjoy my books. The characters, the settings, whatever. It means they shared my world and enjoyed it. That makes it all worthwhile. I can be contacted through my website: http://www.lonniecruse.com/