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Alice Duncan—Jazz, Gin, and Mayhem

February 2, 2020 by in category Jann says . . . tagged as , , , , , , , ,

We’re here today with author, Alice Duncan, or should I say author Emma Craig, Rachel Wilson, Anne Robins or Jon Sharp. A woman who started her prolific writing career in 1995.

In an effort to avoid what she knew she should be doing, Alice folk-danced professionally until her writing muse finally had its way. Now a resident of Roswell, New Mexico, Alice enjoys saying “no” to smog, “no” to crowds, and “yes” to loving her herd of wild dachshunds.

Handy Links for Alice:

Website
Facebook
Daisy Daze
Monthly Newsletter

Jann: Alice, what can you tell us about your writing career and your life in New Mexico.

Alice: I began writing when I still lived in Pasadena, CA. I remember the moment well, actually. My daughter Robin and I were visiting my folks in Roswell, and we decided to drive to Fort Stanton and visit Billy the Kid’s grave (hey, you take your thrills where you find ‘em). As Robin drove, I looked at the bleak landscape, and a scene suddenly leapt into my mind. So I withdrew a pad of paper and a pencil from my purse and wrote it down. This was, I think, in August of 1993. From then on, I wrote down snippets and scraps and, in October of that year, I started to write my first book. It stank, but I kept going. I was mega into historical romances at the time, so I wrote historical romances. My first book, ONE BRIGHT MORNING, set in New Mexico in the late 1800s, sold to Harper on the day of the Northridge Earthquake in January of 1994. It was published in January of 1995. I thought I was on the road to success.

Silly me. However, as I’ve always possessed more determination than sense, I’ve been writing ever since. Once I moved to Roswell (Pasadena being too expensive to live in anymore) my infatuation for the old west gradually faded, and I became nostalgic for good old Pasadena. As the mere notion of writing anything contemporary gives me the willies, I decided to write historical cozy mysteries. So that’s what I’ve been doing for nearly twenty years now. All of them, except for three books in a series called The Pecos Valley books are set in Southern California. Daisy Gumm Majesty, my favorite character of all time, lives in Pasadena.

Jann: Your Daisy Gumm Majesty and Mercy Allcutt mysteries are set in the 1920’s. Why did you select this particular time period?

Alice: The 1920s is a fascinating decade. The War to End All Wars (which, unfortunately, wasn’t) had ended in 1918; the Spanish flu pandemic (which started in a fort in Kansas, but never mind that) wiped out a third or more of the world’s population (in other words, of those remaining after the War) in 1918-1919; the automobile had been invented and was becoming a way of life; young people started to believe their lives meant nothing so they might as well drink, smoke and party; parents were freaked about their children’s loose morals; hemlines were rising; the flickers were drawing people in by the boatload and showing them lives nobody really lived but wanted to live; and, basically, the world, it was a’changing.

Jann: ePublishing Works is republishing your Mercy Allcutt historical cozy mystery series. How wonderful! Who is Mercy Allcutt? Tell us about the world you have created for this series.

Alice: Mercy Allcutt came into being when I thought Daisy Gumm Majesty was floating belly-up in the goldfish bowl of publishing. You see, My publisher at the time, Kensington, said there wasn’t enough mystery in the first Daisy book (in which conclusion they were probably correct), and decided I should take out the dead bodies, add a subsidiary romance since the heroine was already married, and they marketed them as romances. This decision flopped magisterially, which fits the name, but didn’t do the books any good. The first two Daisy book tanked, as so many of my books do, and I had to move on to another name and another historical romance series (my Titanic books which, while perfectly good romances, weren’t what I wanted to write). So there I was, stuck in 19th century romance, when I wanted to be in a good, cozy, roaring-twenties’ mystery!

Thus was born Mercy Allcutt, a Boston Brahmin who longs to live “among the people,” an opportunity for which didn’t exist in her family’s estate on Beacon Hill in Boston. She bucks family pressure, moves to Los Angeles to live with her sister Chloe and Chloe’s movie-mogul husband, and gets a job, something no other female in her family has ever done before. She wants to become a member of the worker proletariat because she yearns to write books. Gritty books. Books set on the mean streets involving “real” people.

She figures a sheltered young lady from Boston knows beans about, grit, real people or mean streets. Therefore, she gets a job as secretary to a private detective, Mr. Ernest Templeton. Mercy and Ernie have several adventures together. One of them involves a woman I modeled more or less after Aimee Semple McPherson, who was a big Gospel preacher in the 1920s and who built the Angelus Temple in Los Angeles. That book was Fallen Angels, which was republished a few months back. It won the Arizona/New Mexico Book of the Year Award for mystery-suspense in 2012, which is weird because I didn’t enter it. Someone entered it for me. I don’t personally care for contests for more reasons than I want to go in to here.

Anyway, I was glad about Mercy, but I was absolutely thrilled when Five Star picked up the Daisy books. Then Five Star closed their mystery line, and I moved to ePublishing Works, a “small” publisher and the only that’s ever made any money for me! Go figure.

Jann: The reissue of Angels of Mercy will be available this month. What has Mercy gotten herself into in this book?

Alice: Mercy, who really does try to live on the income from her job as secretary to a P.I., dips into her Great-Aunt Agatha’s legacy to purchase the Bunker Hill home her sister and brother-in-law own (her parents are scandalized that Los Angeles commandeered the name Bunker Hill, by the way). Chloe and Harvey Nash (Mercy’s sister and brother-in-law) are moving to Beverly Hills. Mercy’s motives are pure. She wants to operate a boarding house for young women who, unlike her, actually have to live on their incomes as working women. All goes well until she allows a cuckoo into her nest. Then things get dicey. Mercy’s apricot-colored toy poodle plays a pivotal role in the book, too. I love dogs.

Jann: What’s the best writing advice you ever received?

Alice: Never give up. I also have a favorite quotation: “Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.” That’s by Henry Van Dyke. I’d leave out the “very” if it were up to me, but it isn’t. Anyway, I didn’t write “The Story of the Other Wise Man,” and Henry Van Dyke did, so what the heck.

Jann: In your books, who is your favorite character and why?

Alice: Daisy Gumm Majesty is my favorite character in my mysteries series. Daisy’s me, only with a supportive family and none of my neuroses (she has plenty of her own, so she’s not boring). And she also has a black-and-tan dachshund. I’ve collected dachshunds for most of my life, and it’s not my fault. I think a dachshund magnet was implanted in me at birth. I now belong to New Mexico Dachshund Rescue, but I managed to end up with seventy-billion wiener dogs even before that.

My favorite character from my historical romances is Loretta Linden, a wealthy San Francisco feminist who survived the sinking of Titanic. Her book, A PERFECT ROMANCE, is the middle book in my three-book Titanic series.

Jann: Do you ever run out of ideas? If so, how did you get past that?

Alice: Oh, yeah. I didn’t at first, but I’ve been doing this for 25 years or more, and I’m old and tired. In order to get past that, I ask people for suggestions! They come up with some doozies. I use them and acknowledge the donors in my books. I appreciate them so much, it’s difficult to quantify how much.

Jann: What profession would you hate to do?

Alice: I’ve pretty much hated every day job I’ve ever had, mainly because I’ve always wanted to write books. I wouldn’t have minded being a librarian, but I had to support my two daughters by myself by the time I was 19 years old, and that didn’t leave much room for writing. After my daughters grew up, writing books just seemed so hard. I mean, how do you string 400 or so pages of one story together? A friend of mine recommended historical romances, so I read them and realized that’s what I’d wanted to write since I was five. So I did.

Jann: What’s your all-time favorite book?

Alice: Oy. That’s a big job; finding one book out of thousands. However, I think my all-time favorite book is THE ROOTS OF HEAVEN, by Romain Gary. Contains elephants.

Jann: What is the craziest thing you’ve ever done?

Alice: Not sure about a statute of limitations, but I don’t think I’d better answer that.

Jann: What turns you off?

Alice: Anachronistic language and cultural mind-sets in historical fiction. There’s a PBS series called “Frankie Drake,” which is set in Canada in the 1920s. It’s absolutely teeming with modern cultural sensibilities and modern expressions. Drives me nuts (not a long drive). But people will watch it and think that’s the way it was. It wasn’t. Trust me. I’ve done so much research into the 1920s (especially in Pasadena and Los Angeles) and the American west, and I know that’s not the way things and language were. Gah.

Jann: What’s the funniest (or sweetest or best or nicest) thing a fan ever said to you?

Alice: I’ve received several letters and emails from people who tell me my books have helped them through hard times, and that makes me glad. The most amazing one came from a woman in Australia, who was, at the time she first wrote, homeless and living in her gold VW Bug with her cat, Koto. I used her story (with her permission) for the Daisy book, Bruised Spirits. I’m happy to say she’s doing much better now, although she nearly got burned out a couple of weeks ago, thanks to Australia’s hideous drought and ghastly brushfire problems.

Jann: Alice, it has been so much fun talking with you today. Thank you for giving us peak into your writing career.


A Few Books by Alice Duncan

ANGELS OF MERCY

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ANGELS OF MERCY

A PERFECT ROMANCE

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A PERFECT ROMANCE

BRUISED SPIRITS

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BRUISED SPIRITS

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Christina Alexandra and her Reluctant Lords

January 2, 2020 by in category Jann says . . . tagged as , ,

Always on the lookout for an adventure, Christina Alexandra has worked many different jobs including both medical and veterinary offices, as a service dog puppy raiser, music teacher, law enforcement instructor, emergency grief counselor, and coroner’s assistant just to name a few. Writing stories set in Georgian and Regency England she credits her varied experiences as the foundation from which she builds true-to-life characters and emotional stories with a unique twist on modern issues.

Christina lives in Southern California where she currently works as an emergency services operator for a busy police department. When not researching, writing or working, Christina spends her spare time travelling, cooking–oftentimes with a historical flair–and connecting with fans on social media. An avid trivia junkie, she is constantly on the lookout for random facts in the hopes that it will help her in her never ending quest for a spot on “Jeopardy!”

You can connect with Christina at: Website ~Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Instagram

Jann: Today Christina Alexandra is going to give us a peak at her writing life and her new historical series—The Reluctant Lords.

Jann: The Reluctant Lords is a five book series. How long did it take you to develop your characters and story plots for each book?

Christina: I’ve been working on this series in one form or another for a few years. It originally started out as just the glimmer of an idea, a brief scene that somehow turned into five books. Once I had that first storyline, I didn’t take me long to come up with the rest. I think I had the entire series at least partially plotted in about a month.

Worth came about a bit differently. While part of the Reluctant Lords, it’s also part of the Common Elements Romance Project. Common Elements is a group of over 70 romance authors writing their own stories, and completely unrelated to each other. The only thing tying them together are the 5 common elements of a lightning storm, a set of lost keys, a stack of books, a haunted house (real or rumored), and a person named Max.

As I was developing the rest of the Reluctant Lords, there were some plot issues such as missing time, first meetings between characters that were unaccounted for and other things that were really holding me up. When I found the Common Elements Romance Project and saw the list, I knew immediately that this is what was needed–a first story that introduced the characters and tied up all those loose ends. The story and the characters just came together so organically and completely, that I really didn’t have to think about them too much, they were just there.

The most difficult part was factoring in the mystery that runs through the entire series and making sure that the actual historical events took place at the correct times. It’s amazing how often history does not cooperate with my stories.

Jann: The first book is The Worth of a Viscount. Lady Maxine Pearson and Adam Hawkins reconnect for a second chance at love. Why did you select this theme? What other themes are you using in the series?

Christina: I’m a sucker for a second chance at love. It’s one of my favorite tropes. When it was decided what the five elements would be for Common Elements, I started scouring the internet for images. I tend to be a very visual writer and I need to see things in order for them to become real to me. In one of my searches, I came across a photographer on Facebook who shoots a lot of historical reenactors and puts them in different scenes. Each image tells a story, and when you see the entire photo series, it’s quite impressive. I came across this one image of a couple in Regency dress cuddling on a settee, with only some candles around them. Suddenly I knew exactly what was going on. It became the first “relationship” scene in Worth, and I built the rest of the story around it. The second chance theme fit perfectly with the image and the story.
Being worthy is also a theme that runs heavy in the series. The Reluctant Lords is the story of five ordinary men–a merchant, a land steward, a soldier, a politician, and a “fixer”–who are content with their ordinary lives, when they suddenly find themselves saddled with titles, estates, and responsibilities far out of their comfort zones. They have to learn to adapt quickly to their new positions, while navigating Regency society and the drawing room politics. For these men, whose Parliamentary influence and reputations are all built on the appearance of being in control it is quite a daunting task, and only the love from the right woman can help them become all they can be.

Jann: Tell us about Maxine and Adam and their love story. Which character has the bigger arc?

Christina: They have an equal arc, really. It’s all about how they become worthy. Adam is so determined to prove his worth to the outside world, while Maxine is more concerned with becoming worthy of herself. I can’t say more without giving away too much!

Jann: Historical romance readers look for accuracy from the author. What are your favorite sources for research and how much time did you spend on research. Do you research before, while you write a first draft or after?

Christina: Oh, man… research is my drug of choice! I love hands-on research. The experiences I’ve gained through doing rather than reading give an added layer to my writing. Knowing the steps of the English country dances, or experiencing how the stench of a coal fire permeates the very walls of a Georgian era townhouse. Walking the streets of London, taking the same route as my characters with my coat turned up against the drizzle, or enjoying the feel of the sun while walking in Hyde Park on a sunny spring day.

I originally spent three years researching the Georgian and Regency time periods. During that time, I read Regency romances almost exclusively to see what worked, what didn’t, and to see how my favorite authors were making a beloved genre unique and impactful Even now, I still do spot research on individual topics, or if I need a refresher on things.

Jann: Your current day job is an Emergency Service Operator. You have also had some additional unique and interesting professions. Do you use any of your experiences in the books for The Reluctant Lords series?

Christina: Kind of, but not in the way you’d think. Regency England is so far removed to modern Southern California and all I’ve done with work, that it’s difficult to translate some things that happen here and now to the early 1800s. I do use some conversations I’ve had or phone calls I’ve taken as a starting point to come up with new story ideas, but the real impact of the Day Job comes in the form of names. Between the street names, officers’ names, and callers’ names I see on my screen all the time, I am never at a loss for what to name an estate, or make up a title, or even name a minor character or two!
Policing during the Regency didn’t really exist as we know it today. I have a historical romantic suspense series planned where the main character is a Bow Street Runner (predecessors to the modern police force), so I’m starting to look into their history and how they did things. My other love is forensics, so I am looking into what tools and techniques would have been available to him back then. It’s a much larger project then I thought it’d be!

Jann: What are you working on now? Can you tell us about your next project?

Christina: After the Reluctant Lords, I’m debating which series to start next. The first is a five book series involving some side characters from the Reluctant Lords that focuses on the heroines who are less than conventional–a dressmaker, a merchant, a librarian, a survivor of domestic violence, and a former courtesan.

The second is a four book series that I like to say is a cross between Jane Austen and the TV show The Amazing Race. It involves one eccentric octogenarian, an estate worth thousands of pounds a year, and a challenge. Since the estate is not entailed (inherited by the oldest living direct descendant), the elderly relative decides to send her four great-grandchildren on a scavenger hunt. Leaving clues all over the UK, they must race to find the next clue, going to the far corners of the country in order to do so. The first one to return to the estate with all the clues is the one who gets the estate and fortune. It’s a comedy of errors along the way. It’ll be a fun series to write, but I think it’ll take a lot more research than I have time for at the moment.

And by research I really mean traveling all over the United Kingdom to find the clues and where they’re hidden in order to make it believable.

Jann: In your books, who is your favorite character and why?

Christina: Stryker. Hands down. You meet him briefly in Worth, but he really makes his appearance in book 2 of the Reluctant Lords, The Seduction of the Duke. He’s a mystery throughout the entire series, rough around the edges, and he’s the kind of person you’d call on when you need something done without a conscience getting in the way. He can be kind of a jerk at times, but there is no one more loyal or willing to fight for what he believes in, or who he believes in. He does get his own story, but it’s like me to leave everyone hanging on his story until the end of the series!

Jann: What kind of writer are you? A page a day or a burst writer?

Christina: I am a burst writer. Between the Day Job, helping my elderly parents with stuff around the house, and day-to-day life, I tend to write whenever and wherever I can. When I have a day off from the Day Job, I set aside time to write at coffee shops where there are fewer distractions, but some of my best writing is done when I’m on the go. Oddly enough, I do most of my writing on my mobile phone. I have wicked fast thumb skills and have written on planes, waiting at the DMV. I plotted the entire story of Worth on vacation in Italy this past December on the train from Rome to Venice, and my flash fiction piece was written while standing in line a LEGOLAND with my sister and her kids.

Jann: What profession other than your own would you love to attempt?

Christina: If I could do any job other than the one I have right now, or one I’ve had in the past, I’d have to say photojournalist for National Geographic Magazine. I love all things travel, nature, and culture. I studies anthropology in school, and spent equal time studying different world cultures and primate behavior, and learning all I can about the animals that share our world. To see them in their natural habitat and their behaviors that have not been influenced by human interaction… <sigh>… it’s a bucket list item for sure!

Jann: Christina, it’s been fun spending time here on A Slice of Orange chatting. I’m looking forward to reading The Worth of a Viscount.


Books by Christina Alexandra

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Jann Says . . . Visit the Past and the Present with Claire Naden

December 2, 2019 by in category Jann says . . . tagged as , ,

CLAIRE NADEN enjoyed a career as a paralegal before turning her attention to writing full-time. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English and master’s degrees in history and library and information science. Her first novel, Cache Under the Stacks: A Cate Wagner Mystery, was published in June 2018. She lives with her husband, David, and their two dogs in Pasadena, California. Visit her online at clairenaden.wordpress.com.


Jann: We’re here today chatting with author Claire Naden who loves writing about the past and present.


Jann: On June 7, 2018, Cache Under the Stack, a Cate Wagner Mystery, your first novel had its debut. Tell our readers about Cate and the mystery she finds herself involved in.


Claire: Cate has inherited a bookstore from her late great aunt. She has always loved the bookstore, so it is only fitting that her auntie has left it to her. One night she is awakened by a phone call and the caller threatens the bookstore and her. He virtually stalks her, and it takes some sleuthing for Cate to discover what he is after. There is a historical twist in the middle of the book that lends itself to the conclusion.


Jann: Will Cate Wagner have another mystery to solve?


Claire: I have been working on another mystery for Cate to solve in which she will make some life altering decisions.


Jann: I understand you are almost finished with your edits for your women’s fiction, Starting Over, set on the island of Kauai in 2004. What’s your story about?


Claire: Actually, I have my galleys back from the publisher, so I am working my way through it for a last check. My story is about a middle age woman who has been recently widowed and decides she wants to start her life over after having had several failed relationships. She makes the decision to sell her condominium and move to Kauai where she will purchase a bed and breakfast. I don’t want to divulge any more – spoilers you know!


Jann: You’re also working on a WWII novel. Do you have any favorite sources for research?


Claire: I have a lot of sources that I use for research and find myself falling down the rabbit hole every once in a while. Since my story is about a journalist, I have used The Women Who Wrote the War as my starting point.


Jann: Do you find yourself returning to certain themes in your stories? What? Why?


Claire: I tend to write stories where my protagonist is a woman. I like to write about women who have conflicts, face obstacles to what they want and manage to overcome and come out on top. I don’t feel comfortable in a “man’s voice.” Maybe that will change.


Jann: Do you have any writing rituals? Schedule?


Claire: No, but I wish I did. Maybe I would accomplish more.


Jann: What kind of writer are you? A page a day or a burst writer?


Claire: I try to get words in every day but not always successful. You know life happens. But if I don’t get words down then I do something writing related like research which I love, character outlines, editing etc. I can always find something to do related to my writing.


Jann: Are there any words of inspiration on your computer, in your office or in your mind when you write?


Claire: Nothing except “Write Everyday.”


Jann: What’s the best writing advice you ever received?


Claire: Not to give up in other words keep swimming!


Jann: How do you stay motivated? What drives you to keep writing?


Claire: It is hard but when I look in my office and see everything I have built up over time and remind myself I am committed.


Jann: What are you dying to try next?


Claire: I would love to try a Victorian mystery/romance set in my town of Pasadena, CA.


Jann: Thanks Claire for sharing with us today on A Slice of Orange. We wish you and all our readers a very special Holiday Season!

Books by Claire Naden

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Lisa Preston – A Mystery Writer of Many Talents

November 2, 2019 by in category Jann says . . . tagged as , , ,

Lisa Preston debuted in fiction with the bestselling psychological thriller/book club pick, Orchids and Stone, followed by the acclaimed psychological suspense The Measure of the Moon. She now writes the horseshoer mystery series and teaches the writing craft, including an intensive on revision. Connect with her at www.lisapreston.com.

Jann: We’re chatting with the amazing Lisa Preston today. I’m so intrigued to hear about her Horseshoer Mystery series. Let’s get started!!

Jann: Which came first in your Horseshoer Mystery series—plot or character?

Lisa: Character! Having a solid grasp of the social, psychological and, of course, the physical make-up of your character makes for a fully imagined participant in the story.

Jann: The Clincher, the first book in the Horseshoer Mystery series debuted with great reviews in 2018. It introduced your leading lady, Rainy Dale. Tell us about Rainy Dale and why you chose horseshoer as her profession.

Lisa: So many interesting jobs are shown in amateur sleuth series, but there are also quite a few repeats, and I wanted a protagonist whose job was different from every other series. We want our ammy sleuths to have an odd skill set that contributes to solving the mystery and catching the killer, and I can pull that off with this young woman who knows unusual things such as how to weld, or what horse would have made that track, and quite a few other . . . spoilers.

Jann: On November 5th, Dead Blow, the second book in the series will be available. How exciting. What is the incorrigible Rainy Dale up to in this book?

Lisa: The germ of Dead Blow’s mystery—an “accidental” death that occurred on a ranch— was planted in The Clincher, and I repeat that tease towards the end of Dead Blow with hints about how book 3 will begin. Some mystery readers are really sharp and will start looking for the next mystery in the current one, plus they get to enjoy chapter one of the next book with every new release.

Jann: How many books do you plan for this series?

Lisa: It was sold as a three-book deal, but the editor has already said the publisher wants to continue the series. It was released in audio form as well hardcover and ebook (with soft cover following a year after the hardback release), and the actress Megan Tusing doing a wonderful job as the reader for the audio edition. Jumping on the audio sales, they’ve already had me supply the gist of book 4.

Jann: Your bio is amazing. What an interesting and amazing life you have led. Do you have ideas for other books or series incorporating any of your other careers or experiences?

Lisa: Aw, thanks for that. Life has taken me to some interesting places and I’ve always been willing to dive in head-first. I do have several other series in the planning, all very distinct.

Jann: Do you find yourself returning to certain themes in your stories? What? Why?

Lisa: What a great question. I think the long view explorations of different authors’ work is a fascinating area of study. Character change, hopefully (but not always) in the form of genuine growth is an area I consider with great care when establishing the individuals under the entire story arc.
I remember working with Caroline Leavitt on an early novel when she asked how a particular character was changed by the story’s end. At the time, I gave the honest reply that I wasn’t sure he did change; her response was: well, he should!

Maybe we’re like plants, either growing or dying, and inertia doesn’t exist in living things. It’s certainly worth understanding a story well enough to apply this question.

Jann: What are you currently working on and when can we read it?

Lisa: The third book in the horseshoer mystery series, FORGING FIRE, will be out in 2020. And of course, I have early work going on in other series that is still hush-hush!

Jann: What’s on your To-Be-Read pile?

Lisa: The venerable Western Writers of America asked me to serve as a judge for this year’s Spur award in the contemporary novel category. Mystery Writers of America had asked before, and International Thriller Writers came calling, but this year I committed to WWA, which means my TBR pile is staggering and growing fast. All sorts of ARCs and new releases from literary to mystery to mainstream to coming-of-age are beckoning for my reading time, and it’s what I do with every spare chunk.

Jann: What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

Lisa: The great outdoors is my go-to place for spiritual replenishment. In addition to the endless wilderness trails with vistas of snowy peaks, forests and farms at the end of my road, my corner of the world lets me access lakes, rivers, and the Salish Sea. Most days, I get a few hours under the sky. Plot points resolve, characters come forward, and the creative well refills.

Jann: Thank you Lisa for your time, it was a real pleasure getting to know you. You have a great start on your Horseshoer Mystery series. Can’t wait to read Dead Blow available November 5th.


Books by Lisa Preston

DEAD BLOW

Buy now!
DEAD BLOW

NATURAL HEALING

Buy now!
NATURAL HEALING

ORCHIDS AND STONE

Buy now!
ORCHIDS AND STONE

THE CLINCHER

Buy now!
THE CLINCHER

THE MEASURE OF THE MOON

Buy now!
THE MEASURE OF THE MOON
THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO HORSE FEED, SUPPLEMENTS, AND NUTRITION
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From the High Sierras: A Chat with Diane Benefiel

October 2, 2019 by in category Jann says . . .

Diane Benefiel writes adventurous romantic suspense novels that are all about the romance. Like your heroes a little rough around the edges and your heroines strong enough to stand up to them? Then you’ll love her books. Diane enjoys travel and flies to the east coast often to see her baby granddaughter Grace (and Grace’s parents). A history teacher in her day job, she’s always searching for pockets of time to write. She and her husband are huge fans of the national parks and hit the open road to visit as often as they can with their trailer in tow. Visit her website and sign up for her newsletter to stay abreast of new happenings.


Today we’re chatting with Romantic Suspense author, Diane Benefiel.

Jann: Your book, Solitary Man, was the National Reader’s Choice Award Winner for Romantic Suspense in 2016! How did it feel winning the award?

Diane: It was awesome.

Jann: August 15, 2019, Hidden Betrayals, The Jamesons, U.S. Marshalls – Book One made its debut. When starting this new romantic suspense series, did you think of character, plot or theme first?

Diane:I almost always build my characters first, and the Jamesons, US Marshals series is no exception. I’d had the idea of a burned-out marshal ready to give up his badge percolating since watching the series Justified, and I wanted a heroine who’s been strengthened by adversity going toe to toe with him. I think I succeeded with Linc and Mikayla.

Jann: What major conflicts do your leading characters in Hidden Betrayal, U.S. Marshal Lincoln Jameson and Mikayla O’Kane, have to work through on the way to their HEA?

Diane:Linc discovers that Mikayla witnessed a major cartel member at the scene of a murder, and the Marshals finally have the witness they need to put the vicious killer behind bars. Linc wants to put her in witness protection, but following a childhood trauma, Mikayla has spent her life trying to escape from the smothering confinement imposed by her mother, and she isn’t about to be put into what she sees as a cage, even if it’s for her own protection.

Jann: How many books do you have planned for this series? Are you working on Book Two? Can you tell us about the characters and their story?

Diane:The Jamesons, US Marshals features siblings Linc, Eleanor, and Seth Jameson, and will be a three-book series. Book Two, Hidden Judgement, features Eleanor, whose skill is being able to emotionally read people. Growing up with two brothers, she has learned to fight harder and be tougher, but always seems to have greater insight into people’s motivations. We’ll see Ellie in charge of protecting a federal judge (yet to be named) who has been threatened by a white nationalist extremist group led by her own father, a man who abandoned the Jameson siblings when they were teenagers.

Jann: Also available for our readers is your High Sierras Series. These six romantic suspense books take place in my favorite areas—the eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains. Tell us about this series and why you chose this particular setting.

Diane:I chose the Eastern Sierras as the setting for my first series because it’s my absolute favorite part of the world. When I was a child my family took may vacations to the Sierras, and I have fond memories of staying at the cabins at Convict Lake with my sisters and parents. My husband and I have taken our children there, and we still visit a couple of times a year. My fictional town of Hangman’s Loss is a blending of Convict and June Lakes, and the story of the town’s name is inspired by the history of how Convict Lake was named.

Jann: Do you find yourself returning to certain themes in your stories? What? Why?

Diane: I do have a recurring theme, and that’s ‘woman in danger’. I love writing strong female characters who can take care of themselves, but who are in a situation where they have to accept help from a strong, protective hero. The next book in The Jamesons, US Marshals, will be a challenge, because for the first time I have the heroine wearing the badge. She’s going to be kickass.

Jann: What are you currently working on and when can we read it?

Diane: I am currently finishing up Break Away, Book 7 of the High Sierras Series. I had thought the series was done, but a character kept popping up in my head and I pitched the idea to my editor, and she said to go for it. Break Away will feature the youngest of the Gallagher siblings who have been the heart of series. Levi has lived away from his family and the town of Hangman’s Loss for all his adult life, but he returns to deal with his past.

Jann: Do you ever run out of ideas? If so, how did you get past that?

Diane: I do hit walls where the ideas won’t come. One way I’ve dealt with that is with a technique I learned from a workshop at a Cal Dreamin’ conference. The presenter suggested a ‘list of twenty’ if a writer gets stuck. Can’t think how to end a scene? Make a list of twenty possible options. Write down even the horrible ones, but make a list of twenty and you’ll find you can come up with some great ideas. I do this all the time.

Jann: It’s been great talking today Diane. Looking forward to reading Hidden Betrayal and Book 7 of the High Sierras Series.


Some books by Diane Benefiel

CLEAR INTENT

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CLEAR INTENT

HIDDEN BETRAYAL

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HIDDEN BETRAYAL

SOLITARY MAN

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SOLITARY MAN
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