My Next Book…

I’m excited to share with you information about my next book!

I already shared this with my newsletter subscribers weeks ago, and they’ll also be the first to see the new book cover once my publisher finishes with it. If you’d like to be among the first to get these updates, here is the link to subscribe.

If you’re on the fence about subscribing, I only manage to send about one update a month. So it’s really not too crazy-making with gobs of emails.

Now, about the new book.

In my last newsletter, I shared lots of insider dirt about the original title, how I came up with it, and how and why my publisher thought we should change it. So I won’t go into all that again here. I’ll just share the title we landed on, and the current blurb (which will also likely change).

So here it is. Publication is currently scheduled for October 2021.

The Secret Next Door

It’s a perfect neighborhood, filled with imperfect people.

Alyson Tinsdale is giving her son the childhood she never had: a stable family, a loving home, and a great school in a safe neighborhood. When they move into the home of her dreams in one of Denver’s most sought after neighborhoods, The Enclave, Alyson works hard to fit in, and impress, the other mothers—despite the growing sense she’s out of her league among their affluent social clique.

Bonnie Sloan is The Enclave’s matriarch. Her family built this neighborhood. With her oldest son headed to Yale and her youngest starting kindergarten, Bonnie is now pursuing her own long-held political aspirations—a Colorado senate seat. But it’s her middle child, Elijah, and their private family struggles, that cast a shadow over her plans.

When the open space behind some of the most expensive homes in the community gets slated for development into an amusement facility, Extreme Golf, the neighborhood becomes deeply divided on the issue. The Enclave community page suddenly erupts with long-held grudges, grievances, and verbal abuse. Seemingly overnight, Alyson’s dream neighborhood has devolved into a war zone while her once stable marriage is fracturing before her.

The personal pressures and community conflicts ratchet with every passing day, but it’s when a thirteen-year-old is found dead beside the neighborhood lake, that simmering tensions boil over into panic.

Gossip flows, lies are exposed, and accusations are made as cracks run through the once solid Enclave foundations. The community’s faith in exterior appearance is eclipsed by the secrets every house keeps. 

If you’re on Goodreads, please add The Secret Next Door to your “want to read” shelf here!

Win a Signed Copy of Her Perfect Life on Goodreads!

I’m giving away 5 signed copies of Her Perfect Life on Goodreads! Click the link below to enter! Good luck and happy reading!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Her Perfect Life by Rebecca  Taylor

Her Perfect Life

by Rebecca Taylor

Giveaway ends October 17, 2020.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Author Interview with Kristi Helvig

Today I’m thrilled to feature author Kristi Helvig. Kristi is not only a wonderful author, she’s also one of my dear writer friends and a frequent attendee of all those writer brunches and author retreats I love going to.

Kristi Helvig is a Ph.D. clinical psychologist turned sci-fi/fantasy author. Her latest book, KILLER POINTE (Dark Edge Publishing) is an urban fantasy about a teen ballerina who plans to fund her dreams of attending Juilliard by serving as an assassin in a parallel fairy tale world. Kristi resides in sunny Colorado with her hubby, two kiddos, and behaviorally-challenged dogs.

Q: What inspired you to write Killer Pointe?

A: As a dance mom (but not like the kind pictured in the show), I’ve sat through countless ballet productions and dance competitions for my daughter who does ballet, jazz, contemporary, musical theater, lyrical and hip hop. She is in 8th grade and dances at least 20 hours per week, so I think many people don’t realize how intense dance is compared to other activities and how much strength is involved. It was entertaining one day to watch my daughter challenge her brother (a competitive athlete) to a plank-holding competition and blow him away. I’ve been so inspired by the dedication and commitment it takes to be a dancer and this book is dedicated to all the dancers in the world.

Q: Did you have to do any particular research for this book?

A: Yes, and I relied on one of my sisters who went to a school of the arts for ballet for high school and then danced professionally with a ballet company before going back to get her doctorate degree in physical therapy. Specifically, I needed a ballet move that could take down a bad guy. My sister knew of a woman who fended off a would-be attacker in New York with the same dance move I ended up using in the book. It was a fun scene to write.

Q: When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?

A: Most weekends, I’m usually found at the aforementioned dance competitions or at our son’s baseball games (he’s a pitcher). When I have rare downtime, I am usually curled up on the couch with my rescue greyhounds and a good book.

Q: What does your writing routine look like?

A: Every morning, my husband and I get up at 5:30am to take an hour walk. I am NOT a morning person, so this was a difficult habit to start but now I love it. It clears my head and gets the creative juices flowing. When I get back, I sit down with a cup of coffee and do a 5-10 minute meditation to get centered and then start writing. On weekdays, this gives me about an hour to write before I start my day job (I’m a Ph.D. Clinical Psychologist) and I shoot for 1K words each day. On the weekends, I can usually find larger blocks of time—last Sunday I wrote 4K and was happy with that. Sometimes, I read about these authors who crank out 10K words in a day and I’m just amazed. For now, I’ve learned to be happy with where I am. 1K is better than no K. 😊

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your journey to publication?

A: Sure. I queried what became my first published book, a sci-fi called Burn Out, to agents and was lucky enough to receive several offers of representation and chose an agent who was perfect for that book. That book and its sequel, Strange Skies, were bought by Egmont USA and I had a wonderful experience with everyone on that publishing team and can’t say enough good things about that whole process. However, shortly after my first book was published, Egmont USA was closed down by their parent company, Egmont UK. I learned so much going through all of that and about the publishing industry in general. Ultimately, I decided to part ways with my agent (who is awesome and I adore her) but I felt strongly that I wanted to do my own thing and she was very supportive and even managed to get the rights back to those two books for me (not an easy thing to do) after another publisher had obtained them from Egmont. So, that’s how Dark Edge Publishing came about. It’s been a blast—and also a ton of work. I love it though and really enjoy the creative control. I’m not averse to traditional publishing but it would take a lot to get me to give up the rights to my work again.

Q: Any advice for writers considering going indie?

A: Oh wow, that would be days of blog posts for all that advice. Most importantly, I would say to treat it like a business because is it. You don’t just write stories—you write ad copy, commission covers (if you don’t make them yourself), hire editors (please do this as you want your book to be as professional as possible), and of course, you build a readership and market the books. You wear so many hats as an indie that it can get overwhelming at times so be patient with yourself and hire out what you can afford, or don’t want to do. Take courses on marketing (there’s a great free one for how to do Amazon ads or Mark Dawson has a great paid course on Ads for Authors). And have fun with it—it’s not easy and some days will definitely be a grind—but you’re making up stories and getting paid for it. What could be better than that?

From the publisher: Dark Edge Publishing

Here are the two most important things to know:

1. I am going to be a professional dancer.
2. Every fairy tale you’ve ever read is a lie.

A prince didn’t rescue Rapunzel from her ivory tower nor did a huntsman save Little Red Riding Hood from a voracious wolf.

I did.

The men might get all the credit for it but I’m the one who makes bank. Sure, the official versions of these stories are altered in books but I’m good with that. I have bigger goals—like Juilliard School type goals.

Shifting between my world, with its ballet classes and homework, to the parallel world of Liralelle, with its witches and trolls, can be jarring at times but I’ve gotten the hang of it. That is, until the day a troll crashes my Sleeping Beauty audition and I’m asked to kill the most fearsome witch of all. Yet the pay for this final job will cover my entire Juilliard tuition—if only I can live long enough to make it there.

About Book Reviews

Writers can have a pretty broad swath of feelings about the reviews that come in for our books. I belong to several different, very private, writer groups where we can unload how we really feel about these critiques that roll in for our work. And I have witnessed, on a regular basis, the toll the ever-dreaded one-star review can have on an author’s self-confidence.

Over the years, I myself have experienced both elation and despair over public opinions of my writing.

Yesterday, a writer friend posted a link to Lionel Shriver’s latest Times review of Private Means by Cree LeFavour. In it, she uses many words in order to yawn over this fiction debut. Which left many of my writer friends wondering, why? And to what end? After reading it, and wondering what could possibly motivate a person to write a review like this, and quite frankly, most of the “meh” reviews in general, this is my current takeaway.

I believe nearly all reviews, both professional and novice, tell you far more about the individual reviewer than they ever do about the book. It is a singular lens into that one individual’s psyche. The book is simply the filter.

It’s impossible to know what a reader is bringing to the equation. Their particular pet peeves, experiences, mood, current circumstances…triggers. And so, in the end, writers should worry most about what they think and feel about their own work. Once your book is already out in the world, resist the hot wind of others’ opinions–it is a danger that may blow you off your charted course.

What I’m Reading Now: Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

This was one of my Book of the Month picks last month. It has been sitting in my office while I finished writing the current book. I was so tempted to dig in, but I held strong while I finished writing first!

I’ve heard such great buzz about this one…can’t wait to start.

From the publisher: Del Rey

After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find—her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.   

Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: Not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.

Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí, but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness. 

And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.

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Author Interview: Finola Austin, Bronte’s Mistress

I’m very excited to interview Finola Austin on the blog today.

Finola Austin was born in Gravesend in England to a Northern Irish father and an English/Welsh mother. When she was five, her family moved to the small town of Whitehead in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Finola spent her childhood telling stories to her long-suffering younger sister and reading all the books she could get her hands on. Currently, Finola lives in Brooklyn, with her Siberian cat, Arabella, and too many books. She is working on her next novel.

Q: What inspired you to write Brontë’s Mistress?

A: I was inspired by a book, but not a book by one of the Brontë sisters, though I’ve always loved Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and their less well-known works. 

I was reading Elizabeth Gaskell’s The Life of Charlotte Brontë, the first great Brontë biography when I came across the description of the rumored affair between the Brontë sisters’ troubled brother, Branwell, and his employer’s wife, Lydia Robinson. Mrs. Gaskell called Lydia a “profligate woman, who had tempted [Branwell] into the deep disgrace of deadly crime.”  She said that in this case “the man became the victim,” and suggested that Lydia was responsible, not only for Branwell’s demise, but for all the Brontë siblings’ premature deaths.

I was fascinated by this piece of salacious gossip from literary history and convinced that somebody else must have told Lydia’s side of the story, revisiting Gaskell’s interpretation from a modern feminist perspective. But…no one had! I just knew that this was a story I had to tell. I researched and wrote my novel in a fever. The closest comparison I can give you is that I was like somebody possessed or in the throes of an intense romantic infatuation.

Q: Did you have to do any particular research for this book?

Yes. My research was extensive and is detailed in the Author’s Note at the end of my book, so no spoilers here! I have a Masters’s degree in Victorian literature and this background, including the bibliographical skills I gained while studying at the University of Oxford, served me well. Suffice to say that my research included a lot of desk research and a crazy trip to Yorkshire, where I got chased by sheep, spent hours in archives, and discovered some gems of information that I think really brought my novel alive. When writing historical fiction about real people there are always details you have to make up (e.g. what people said and how they felt) but it was important to me that everything that happens in my novel could have happened. I know the date of every scene in my book. In once instance, I had to rewrite a chapter to get rid of moonlight when I realized there was no moon that night!

Q: When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?

A: I have a demanding day job. I work in digital advertising in New York City, currently at Facebook as part of the Creative Shop team. I also read a lot and give feedback to other writers (being part of two writers groups takes time!). But one of the best parts of living in New York is that there is so much to do. I go to the theater, to operas, the ballet. I also try to go to art galleries as often as I can. And I eat out and go to bars with friends far too much. I love this city.

Q: What does your writing routine look like?

A: Ha. My routine isn’t much of a routine. I write when I can—early in the morning, at night and on weekends. I often write when traveling, whether for work or to see my family back in the UK. I think I work best on airplanes or in hotel rooms (especially if I’m able to expense room service). When life is really busy I actually schedule ‘dates’ for myself with my characters on my calendar to ensure I still have time to write and don’t say yes to other plans. It sounds a little crazy but it works.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your journey to publication? 

Bronte’s Mistress was the second full-length novel I wrote. I’d queried a previous manuscript (also historical fiction but not about real people) back in early 2016 and received a few full requests from literary agents, but rejection after rejection came in. By the time the project was dead in the water, I’d already moved onto working on my next book. 

I started researching Lydia Robinson and her affair with Branwell Brontë in late Fall 2016 and did a full year of extensive research before I began writing. I wrote the novel incredibly quickly. I think it took me around six months from Fall 2017 to Spring 2018, whereas my first unpublished book was the result of four to five years of working on it on and off. I workshopped the novel chapter by chapter with my two writing groups while I was writing it and then sent it to ten beta readers before making my final revisions. 

I started querying literary agents in August 2018. The first batch of queries I sent out included one to Danielle Egan-Miller (my now agent). I knew from reading about her online that we had a very similar reading taste and I’d received great feedback from her former assistant on my first manuscript, so I had a good impression of the agency. I was upset and a little embarrassed when I received an automatic response saying the agency was currently closed to queries (how had I missed that??). But around an hour later I received a reply from Danielle, saying she just had to make an exception, because “what former English major could possibly resist the story of the woman who corrupted Branwell Brontë?” I was excited but I tried not to get ahead of myself. I finally signed with Danielle in October 2018, so it took around eight weeks from query to offer of representation.

I then did two further rounds of edits with Danielle’s guidance—the first addressing broad-strokes feedback, the second more detailed. We went on submission in late March 2019 and Brontë’s Mistress sold via a preempt within days to Daniella Wexler at Atria Books. Danielle and Daniella—it seemed like fate! I couldn’t have had a better team in bringing my novel into the world.

From the publisher: Atria Books

Yorkshire, 1843: Lydia Robinson—mistress of Thorp Green Hall—has lost her precious young daughter and her mother within the same year. She returns to her bleak home, grief-stricken and unmoored. With her teenage daughters rebelling, her testy mother-in-law scrutinizing her every move, and her marriage grown cold, Lydia is restless and yearning for something more.

All of that changes with the arrival of her son’s tutor, Branwell Brontë, brother of her daughters’ governess, Miss Anne Brontë and those other writerly sisters, Charlotte and Emily. Branwell has his own demons to contend with—including living up to the ideals of his intelligent family—but his presence is a breath of fresh air for Lydia. Handsome, passionate, and uninhibited by social conventions, he’s also twenty-five to her forty-three. A love of poetry, music, and theatre bring mistress and tutor together, and Branwell’s colorful tales of his sisters’ elaborate play-acting and made-up worlds form the backdrop for seduction.

But Lydia’s new taste of passion comes with consequences. As Branwell’s inner turmoil rises to the surface, his behavior grows erratic and dangerous, and whispers of their passionate relationship spout from her servants’ lips, reaching all three protective Brontë sisters. Soon, it falls on Lydia to save not just her reputation, but her way of life, before those clever girls reveal all her secrets in their novels. Unfortunately, she might be too late.

Meticulously researched and deliciously told, Brontë’s Mistress is a captivating reimagining of the scandalous affair that has divided Brontë enthusiasts for generations and an illuminating portrait of a courageous, sharp-witted woman who fights to emerge with her dignity intact.

What I’ve Been Doing and a Giveaway

Two Quick Notes:

  • I finished the first draft of my next book! I haven’t 100% settled on a title yet, but I have a few ideas. I have been considering running a reader survey for the titles I’ve been considering–so maybe more on this later

In spite of this summer being closed, we did manage to get the kids up to the mountains for a quick getaway. We rented a cabin at the River Run RV and Camping Resort in Granby, Colorado. As they’re getting older (senior and junior this year!) it hard not to feel like we’re running out of time with them. It’s so true what they say about motherhood: The days are long, but the years are short. Sometimes I look at them and I just can’t believe how grown up they are! Here are a few pictures from that trip.

Me and Beth waiting on dinner from the Summit Bar and Grill
The views!
And of course, we had to stop at Beau Jo’s Pizza in Idaho Springs on our way home! And yes, the spoiled dogs sat on our laps while we ate!

I realize it’s only August 17th, but this is definitely the time when I usually start feeling like it’s the end of summer. I’m sure this is because my season cycle has always been tied to the school year, first as a child, and now as someone who works in public education. But also, the mornings and evenings are a bit cooler, and every so often, I catch that scent of autumn in the air.

But this year, I’m trying harder to hang on to that sense of summer for a bit longer–even though I am heading back into work at the school this week. I want to remember to find time to sit outside, lie on my lounger, and enjoy the green and flowers for as long as they last.

Even now, I’m writing this from the sunlounger in my backyard instead of my office inside.

I guess I don’t feel quite ready to jump full swing back into the hectic crush of the school year. Or maybe, I just want to remember to try and keep the busyness balanced with those quiet moments of being present and remembering to enjoy my fricking life.

One of my big goals for this year is to not allow myself to get so completely swept up in the intensity of the year. So, fingers crossed.

  • This Wednesday I’m posting an author interview with Finola Austin. Her debut novel, Bronte’s Mistress just released! So please remember to come back for that!
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Author Interview: A.G. Henley

Today I’m thrilled to be interviewing author A.G. Henley. She is one of my dearest writing friends, confidants, and is a frequent attendee at those writing retreats I love sneaking away for.

She is a USA Today bestselling author of contemporary and fantasy novels and stories, including the Love & Pets romantic comedy series. The first book in her young adult Brilliant Darkness series, The Scourge, was a Library Journal Self-e Selection and a Next Generation Indie Book Award finalist. She’s also a clinical psychologist, but she promises not to analyze you . . . much.

Follow A.G. Henley

Q: What inspired you to write your Love and Pets series?

A: Funny you should ask. I wanted to write a romantic comedy series that revolved around pet owners. I started writing the first book about a woman who owned a nightmarish prairie-dog. It was based on a real-life friend whose pet prairie dog tore up her apartment, attacked her mom, and in one horror movie-esque episode that I narrowly escaped, chased me down the hall to the guest room. It was a funny premise, but a certain friend (cough *Rebecca* cough) asked me two very good questions. Why a prairie dog? Why not just a dog? Her point was that it would be a lot easier to attract readers to books about dogs and cats and other common pets than a book about exotic pets like snakes or prairie dogs. Truer words were never spoken. I ended up changing the animal in the first book to a pug dog, and the first book in the series became The Problem with Pugs. The following books follow the unlucky-in-love human clients of a mobile animal clinic called Love and Pets, and the animal patients so far have covered tabby cats, dachshunds, Labrador retrievers, Persian cats, and soon, border collies. There are currently five books plus a prequel, and The Conundrum of Collies will be published this fall. Animal lovers and sweet romance lovers seem to like them, and they’ve been a lot of fun to write.

Q: Did you have to do any particular research for these books?

A: I do research the breed I’m writing about for each book. For example, what are their personalities like? Do they have particular health problems? What are their quirks? (They all have quirks.) While writing The Problem with Pugs, I borrowed Rebecca’s sweet, late pug Bella for some in vivo research, which felt a whole lot more like fun than work. I also investigate aspects of the characters I’m writing. For example, the main male character in Pugs is a mobile veterinarian, so I read about what the job entails, what a mobile vet practice is like, what the vehicles look like, that kind of thing. In my upcoming book about a border collie, I’m researching disc dog clubs to find out what training and competition looks like for these athletic animals.

Q: What does your writing routine look like?

A: Ha ha ha ha! Oh wait, that wasn’t a joke? I wish I had a writing routine. Every book seems to be different. One book I’ll be very disciplined and wake up and write for several hours before doing anything else and it gets done in an orderly manner. Other books, I’ll procrastinate, and then race to cram it in between other responsibilities before my deadline. Still, other books are more haphazard, like I’ll be very disciplined for weeks, and then it falls apart and I watch the days tick by in a sort of writing paralysis. That’s where I am with The Conundrum of Collies, but somehow it all works out and they get written. Fingers crossed. I did buy a standing desk recently, and that’s been really nice. My butt is thanking me, even if my feet and ankles have now taken to constantly complaining.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your journey to publication?

A: I started writing creatively in 2008. By early 2010, I was querying agents with my first book. It is as yet unpublished, so you can see how that went. I wrote and queried a second book by 2011, but no bites from agents, so I indie published it in early 2012. It’s called The Scourge, a young adult dystopian fantasy romance, and it did surprisingly well in those early days of e-readers. I did manage to get an agent that same year, and she attempted to submit The Scourge to publishers. We came close with a couple houses, but no luck. I decided to keep indie publishing and keep trying to write something for traditional publishing, but eventually I focused on indie. I now have the complete three-book Brilliant Darkness series to follow The Scourge, the ongoing Love & Pets sweet romantic comedy series, and several published short stories and novellas.

Q: When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?

A: I am a psychologist with a part-time telehealth practice, a servant to a small, fuzzy canine mutt master named Guapo, and CEO of a busy household. At least, we were busy in the Before-Times. Now, I mainly try to keep juggling writing books, marketing books, spending time with my family, eating, sleeping, drinking coffee and wine, and trying my best to also shower and wear pants. Actually, I never wear pants because I currently live in the southeast and it’s summer. Enough said.

From the publisher:

A bitter feud. A burning love. And cats.

Kathleen Caplin hopes the annual CatFest convention in Denver will be her big break. Her Persian cat, Juliet “Cat”ulet, is an invited guest thanks to the million-plus rabid social media followers who adore Juliet’s satin medieval dresses, the balcony settings Kathleen creates, and her Shakespearean-themed posts. If those same fans vote for Juliet as the Best Newcomer at CatFest, then Purina wants to talk sponsorship, and Kathleen can finally focus on building a business around Juliet’s success.

But there’s stiff competition: another Persian cat called Romeo “Meow”tague. Romeo’s anonymous owner copy-catted Kathleen’s Shakespearean theme to build a massive following for himself. Although the loathsome man is clearly gunning for the sponsorship, Kathleen aims to win.

For Joe Davis, CatFest is a means to an end. He wants out of office cube-land, and he can do it if his cat, Romeo, wins Best Newcomer and the Purina sponsorship. But then he meets her at the convention—Kathleen—the woman who teaches the torches to burn bright. After falling in love over the course of one magical night out on the town, Joe knows he’s finally found the woman of his dreams . . . Until he realizes the woman of his dreams is also the despicable owner of Juliet of the house of Catulet.

Can Joe convince Kathleen that his only love sprung from his only hate? Or will there instead be a plague o’ both their houses?

Read now and find out in this star-crossed lovers romance in the “quirky, hilarious, endearing” Love & Pets sweet romantic comedy series by USA Today bestselling author A.G. Henley!

The Love & Pets Series:

1. The Problem with Pugs
2. The Trouble with Tabbies
3. The Downside of Dachshunds
4. The Lessons of Labradors
5. The Predicament of Persians

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Author Interview with Shawn McGuire

Today I’m thrilled to feature author Shawn McGuire on my blog. Shawn is a fellow Colorado writer and also one of my dearest writer friends. You know when I talk about all those awesome brunches and writing retreats–well Shawn is always there.

Shawn recently released the 10th book in her Whispering Pines series. But for new readers, I’ve included links to the first book in the Whispering Pine series, Family Secrets, below.

Author Interview: Shawn McGuire

Q: What inspired you to write your Whispering Pines series?

A: I wanted to create a place where I would love to live. Someplace small with people who cared about each other. A house on a lake sounded good to me, too, so I threw that in there. It had to be a place that wouldn’t get overcrowded when people heard about how great it was, so I made Whispering Pines a place that anyone could visit, but only people who didn’t fit in anywhere else could live. Finally, I was curious about Wicca so decided to throw that into the mix. Turned out, my readers were looking for the same kind of place.

Q: Do you have to do any particular research for these books?

A: I do. First, these are murder mysteries and I like to find creative ways to kill people! While the books aren’t gory, I do like to give a bit of medical detail, so I research to make sure I get that right. Second, almost every book takes place during a Wiccan sabbat or holiday. The Wiccan details are the most fun for me, so I spend probably more time researching than is really necessary to make sure I can bring that to life.

Q: When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?

A: I’m a baker so you’ll find me in the kitchen a lot. I love to hike and go on long motorcycle rides with my husband. Of course, I read a lot. I also do yoga and crafts. When not in quarantine, I love to travel.

Q: What does your writing routine look like?

A: I’m blessed to be able to write fulltime. My day starts around 4:30 or 5:00 in the morning. That quiet time before the rest of the world wakes up is like magic to me. I take breaks for meals and to get either a walk or some yoga in every day.

As for taking a book from the first word to publication, that routine generally takes me about 4 months. The first draft is my least favorite part, so I try to get that written as fast as possible, which means 2 or 3 weeks. Then I do a revision to add all the fun details. That’s when the story really comes alive. After my beta readers take a peek, I do another revision, put the manuscript through a grammar checker, and then hand it off to my editor. After making her corrections, I let Word “read” the manuscript to me to find any final awkward sentences then it’s ready for publication.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your journey to publication?

A: Like many authors, I wrote as a kid. English was always my best subject. I have a degree in English but never thought of being a novelist until many years later. I was a stay-at-home mom and when my youngest son was about 18 months old, I needed something to exercise my brain, so I started writing again. Soon the once-a-week exercise while he napped turned into an obsession. I tried going the traditional route, but self-publishing turned out to be a better fit for me. I can release books on my schedule the way I want them to be. And I’m finally using both my English and my Business degrees!

Q: Any advice for new writers?

A: Don’t be afraid to step out of your genre comfort zone. My first series was a young adult fantasy, and I thought that’s where I’d stay. On a whim, I gave mysteries a shot and it turned out to be a perfect fit. I had to learn the rules of the genre because not only had I never written mysteries I hadn’t read all that much either. I enjoy quilting and look at writing a mystery kind of like putting together a quilt. You have to take all these little pieces (clues) and put them together in the right order (plot) to create a beautiful image in the end (bad guy in jail).

From the publisher: Brown Bag Books

Welcome to Whispering Pines, Wisconsin. A place for those who don’t belong.

Sixteen years after a family feud drove her from the cozy Northwoods village of Whispering Pines, Wisconsin, former detective Jayne O’Shea returns to prepare her grandparents’ lake house for sale. Once there, not only does she find that the house has been trashed, her dog discovers a dead body in the backyard.

Jayne intends to stay out of it, but when it becomes obvious the sheriff isn’t interested in investigating the death, Jayne can’t stop herself. Her list of suspects grows faster than the plants in the commons’ pentacle garden. Could it be the local Wiccan green witch with her stash of deadly plants? The shopkeeper who slips into trances and foretells death? The visitor determined to practice black magic?

What Jayne knows for sure is that the closer she gets to solving this crime, the more the sheriff wants her to back off. And when a local fortune teller provides a crucial clue, Jayne knows it’s up to her to solve this murder.