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Prolific Mystery Author Emily Brightwell Reveals Her Writing Process

October 2, 2021 by in category Writing tagged as , , , ,

Emily Brightwell was born in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia. Her family moved to Southern California in 1959 and she grew up in Pasadena. After graduating from California State University at Fullerton, she decided to work her way around the world and took off for England. She didn’t get any further than that because she met the man who would become her husband in Leeds, Yorkshire, married in 1976 in California, and later had two children.

While working in international shipping in Long Beach, she decided to pursue her dream and become a writer—which, of course, is the best job ever. To date, Emily has written over fifty novels in three genres—romance, young Adult and of course, mystery.

Emily lives in Carson City, Nevada and is currently working on “Mrs. Jeffries Aims to Win” the 41st book in the series.

I’m excited to have multi-published author Emily Brightwell here with us today. The 40th novel in her fabulous Mrs. Jeffries Victorian London Mystery Series will make its debut on November 16th!! Mrs. Jeffries and the Midwinter Murders has Mrs. Jeffries and Inspector Gerald Witherspoon hot on the path to solve their latest murder case.

Jann: As a multi-published author, is it hard to keep the books fresh and engaging?

Emily: Keeping a long-running series fresh isn’t easy, but it’s loads of fun. I’ve written forty “Mrs. Jeffries” books and I’m currently working on number forty-one. Where does my inspiration come from? It comes from everywhere, from newspapers, books, social media, magazines, and most of all real life. I’m a news junkie and lest you think that the news of today couldn’t possibly provide any insight into how the Victorians lived, loved and murdered, you’d be dead wrong. People haven’t changed.

Whether we live in Victorian England or modern America, we’re driven by the same emotions today as we’ve always been; love, hate, envy, greed, fear, jealousy, obsession. Every emotion they had, we have. When I sit down to write, I pinpoint the underlying emotion that drives my killer and work from there. For example, take the idea of ‘greed’ as a motive for murder. There are hundreds of ways that ‘greed’ can be used in any time period—from a Victorian wife who murders her husband for his money to a tech company billionaire who wronged his original partners so he could have it all.

Jann: What is your writing process and has it changed with all the new writing programs?

Emily: My process hasn’t really changed and I don’t use any of the ‘new writing programs’.  Here’s how I do it. Once I have my motive, I then branch out to other aspects of the manuscript; characters, milieu, sub plots, red herrings, identifying internal as well as external conflicts for everyone, including the killer! As I said, it’s loads of fun and I’ve enjoyed it immensely.

I believe effective writing requires conflict in every scene…you’ll notice I said ‘conflict’ not confrontation. Constant arguing is just tiresome, but conflict, done properly, carries the reader through the scene and leaves them wanting more. Conflict can be argumentative, but the most effective use is to give your characters goals in opposition to one another. For example, Phyllis, Inspector Witherspoon’s housemaid, is saving her wages to open her own detective agency. When she learns that another character, Wiggins, is planning the same thing, there is immediate conflict between them. Phyllis feels someone she trusted has stolen her idea. A typical alpha male’s behavior! She now has a goal in opposition to him—mainly beating him at every turn in the search for information. Wiggins, on the other hand, feels that wanting the same thing would bring them close—as partners. When he realizes it hasn’t and that she’s working extra hard ‘best’ him, he develops his own way of dealing with the situation. It’s a double ‘goals in opposition’ as Wiggins is just a bit in love with Phyllis. Man versus woman—a cliche but it works!

Jann: Do you have any writing rituals? Schedule?

Emily: I often get asked what is the first thing I do before starting work on a new Mrs. Jeffries manuscript? I indulge in the one ritual I’ve had since the beginning. I call it “The Ritual Cleaning of the Office.” Yup, by the time one Mrs. Jeffries book is finished and I’m on to the next one, my desk is covered with notebooks, stacks of paper, piles of research books, sticky notes on every surface and usually cat hair on my chair. But once my office is cleansed, I get to work.

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

Emily: Over the years, I’ve experimented with a number of different writing processes and I’ve finally hit upon one that works well for my personality. That’s a process I think every writer has to endure before finding what works for them. Maybe some have the gift of plotting an entire book in their head before page one but I don’t. Anyway, I digress so back to my process, which begins with me coming up with a theme. It isn’t one that you had to write in high school English. It’s something real and personal to you, the author. It can be something simple: the truth always comes to light or old sins have long memories. But it has to be something meaningful to you—a topic that illustrates what you want to tell the world. Before you say ‘but isn’t it just a story?’ Of course, it is. The main function of genre fiction is to entertain your readers, but stories also need to have a point of view about the world you’re creating. A POV that you genuinely believe in and that has some universal validity. But I’m digressing again, let’s get back to my process. After the theme, I do a character list with age, social class, physical description and a motive for wanting the victim dead. This list isn’t written in stone and frequently changes as I work through the manuscript. Then I do my favorite part; the crime-line. This is single spaced, often many pages long and follows the killer from the moment he/she decides to commit murder to the steps he/she takes to do the actual deed. It is an important part of my process and like the character list, can change as I write the book. Once those bits are completed, I dive onto page one, cross my fingers and hope readers will like it.

Jann: Have you ever suffered writer’s block?

Emily: Once I’m in the book, I try to write at least five pages a day—sometimes more, but occasionally, if I’m stuck, less. Yes, I do get stuck sometimes…I don’t know any writer that doesn’t. But I’ve never had a full-blown case of writer’s block (and hopefully never will), so I’m very grateful to be spared that misery. I know writers that have endured the dreaded block and sometimes it takes weeks, months or even years to get back to work. Writing is the best job in the world but there are some days when your characters simply won’t do what you they’re told! That’s when I go for a walk. I love being a writer and I can’t think of any other job that would give me so much joy…except maybe being a zookeeper for penguins. That looks like a great job too.

I love my characters and how they have grown and changed, how they have surprised and astounded me but one day, I want to expand a bit and do some other projects. Okay, I’ll admit to another guilty secret. I have a ‘fun book’. It’s a thriller, a romance, a science fiction saga and totally non-commercial as it doesn’t fit into any marketing or publishing niche. But I write in it every day and it helps me to keep the “Mrs. Jeffries Series” fresh. It lets me stretch as a writer and that’s a good thing (to paraphrase Martha Stewart). I’ve done romance, mystery and teen angst but there are always great ideas and stories out there waiting to be told. I’m hoping to be able to tell some of these tales for a long, long time.

Jann: Emily, thank you for spending time with us here on A Slice of Orange. Congratulations with your 40th book!! What an amazing achievement. Wishing you many more.

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Author E.J. Williams–Marriage, Mystery and Other Stuff!!

September 2, 2021 by in category Jann says . . . tagged as ,

Published authors, Janet Elizabeth Lynn and Will Zeilinger wrote individually until they teamed up and wrote the five book Skylar Drake Murder Mystery series. Janet has published seven mystery novels and Will has three in print, plus two short stories. Their world travels have sparked several ideas for murder, crime and thriller stories. This creative couple has been married for 49 years.

For their new International Crime File series, they are writing as E.J. Williams. The first novel is titled STONE PUB: an Exercise in Deception.

We’re here today with the mystery writing dual who write under the name of E. J. Williams. We’ll be talking about picking it up fresh after a delay, writing as a couple and other stuff.

Janet and Will:

We are a married couple who have written the five book Skylar Drake Mystery Series together and yes…we are still married. After finishing the series, we planned another series of international mystery thrillers. Unfortunately, we’ve had several medical issues occur during 2020-21 for both of us. Hence there was an eighteen-month period where we couldn’t work on our new book. After this long absence in writing we’ve decided to try and “get back into the saddle again.”

Jann: What are the positive and negatives of writing as a couple?


Positives: collaboration. Having a sounding board for your ideas. Coming up with fresh new ideas (two heads are better than one).

Negatives: Difficult to take a new idea and run with it. You must always check in with co-writer first. A couple’s vision is going to be different than an individual’s vision.


I find it wonderful to share the ideas and brainstorming session with someone. Before starting our first book, Slivers of Glass together, we made a rule that we check our egos at the door before we do anything with the book we are writing. The most difficulty we have is trying to schedule meetings around two hectic and existing schedules. We manage but it can be a pain.

Jann: Do you share the editing and publication process for your books.


Yes. We share both the editing and publication processes for all our books, including cover design and back cover blurbs.


We split our “duties” according to our skills. I like to outline and he is a “panster”. So I outline the story, he adds to the outline then we start writing any of our Skylar Drake books. With editing we read the manuscript to each other 3-4 times before sending it to the editor. Regarding publishing, Will is the expert in formatting and publishing so he is in charge of that. I take care of Public Relations.

Jann: What if you hate what you wrote before?


Personally, I save everything. Even if I can’t stand what I wrote previously, there will always be something in it that can be used in the future. If you are talking about previous works, I don’t shine a spotlight on the ones I don’t like…but someone will like it. Writing is an art and art is subjective. Never apologize for your work. Writing is a creative process and everything will not be a masterpiece.


Someone once said, “You can’t edit a blank page”. And I have to admit my first drafts are embarrassing when I read through them. But they are not supposed to be pristine. All writers will tell you writing a book, short story, etc. is a process.

Jann: Do you ever chuck what you did and just start a new project?


No, but I have begun some short stories or outlines for a novel after a few lines that just did NOT work. Yes. In that case, I crumple up the paper and start over.


I have never thrown away anything I have written. If it doesn’t work after two tries, then I remove it from the manuscript and keep it. I can’t tell you how many times I needed scene and looked through my “dump” folder and found the perfect scene.

Jann: How do you keep the excitement alive for an old project?


As a visual artist, I’ve looked at works I made decades ago and thought…I’ve learned a lot since then. The same goes for writing. A fresh look at an old project can be exciting because NOW you know what to do to make it come alive. I look at old projects as a challenge and that is exciting!


It is hard to pick up a project again after an absence, but I look at it as a fresh piece longing to be touched again. I have to admit, I do have an old manuscript, my first, that has been under the bed for eleven years. I probably will not pick up again. I keep it around to remind me to stay on task and finish all project as I write them or as soon as possible.

Jann: Did the story run through your mind even though you were away from it?


Yes. The story will rattle around in my brain. Especially after all the research I’ve put into something. The story will run through my mind during the time I’m not actively writing it and has even reminded me of some stories I’ve put on hold.


The book was always on my mind in many different ways. Being on pain pills my thought meandered away from the outline and I came up with some amazing thoughts. So, I kept in depth notes when I came to. As outlandish some of them were, it helped me think outside the box.

Jann: What advice do you give to author who must take a break from their work or lose their mojo?


Your work will still be there when whatever caused you to stop has been resolved. Losing your “mojo” could mean writer’s block or a change of focus. Remember why you were writing the piece. Maybe your reasons have changed. Look at this time as a landing spot-–a place to rest your creative mind for a while. Recharge and take a deep breath.


Take a break from your writing. When you can’t take a break, join a writers’ group. We had severe writer’s block after eleven books (we write separately and together). For five months we couldn’t get anything down—nothing! Desperate, we joined a writers’ club. That forced us to write something every week. It took about three weeks but suddenly we broke out of it.

Jann: What advice do you have for new authors and returning published authors to the craft after being away for several years?


Remember that some of the most well-known authors have had to do something else for a while. If you love to write, then getting back in the chair will be like riding a bike. Your writing is your world. You have the opportunity to change anything you want. There is no right or wrong. It’s your creative piece. No one else controls it but you.


For new authors, join writers’ clubs, especially in your genre. If not, join several critic groups. After a few weeks of submitting and listening a to their advice. See which one is most helpful. There are critique group and there are critique groups.  for seasoned authors once you start writing again, your “juices” will flow again, I promise. Someone once gave a formula for writing books: Butt + Chair = Books. This formula works!

Jann: What do you like the most about writing?


Having been trained and spending my career as a visual artist, I found writing fiction to be a creative art, as satisfying as any visual art.  While it can be a solitary endeavor, I like to see a finished project that started out as a blank screen (or sheet of paper.) I get engulfed in my writing. When we decided to write the Skylar Drake mysteries together, I loved being able to go back in time and recreate places and environments. That was a complete hoot!


I enjoy the research that goes into each book. The Skylar Drake Mystery Series takes place in 1956, Los Angeles. All books take the reader from LA to another city. Our first book, SLIVERS OF GLASS. Starts in LA and goes to 1956 Santa Rosa. We happened to be in Santa Rosa for a wedding when we decided to have the book take place there. Since we didn’t know the area, I asked people “Where would you dump a dead body?” I was amazed how people were giving us directions and landmarks to good body dumps (we had 5 dead bodies to put some place). As two of the gentlemen were giving us directions, one wife turned to the other and said, “They seem so normal!”

Jann: What is E. J. William’s working on now?


Janet and I began our work on our long-awaited International Mystery series which takes place in 1962. The first book STONE PUB takes the reader to Ireland. We were finishing the last of the Skylar Drake Mystery series and had to wait to start STONE PUB. We finally got to it but we both faced health issues. We tried to pick it up and work on it periodically but just couldn’t focus. The book is coming along nicely with lots of changes we hadn’t thought of originally


We got the idea for an International Mystery series in 2014 after someone said to us, “You guys travel all over the place!” STONE PUB came about three years ago after a visit to Ireland. The country is truly “magical” and really spoke to us. Everywhere we went, ideas floated into our heads, and we found some great body dumps! Since we are now feeling better, and off pain meds we can think clearly. We’re both still in Physical Therapy and doing much better.

Thanks Janet and Will for spending time with us today and sharing your ideas for picking it up fresh after a delay. Can’t wait for Stone Pub to make its debut!!

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Australia’s Author Madeline Ash talks about her Cowboy Princes Series!!

August 2, 2021 by in category Jann says . . . tagged as , ,

Madeline Ash is an Australian contemporary romance author and two-time RITA Award finalist. She has also won Australia’s Romantic Book of the Year award (RUBY). She writes sexy-sweet novels with sensitivity and humor.

I’m so excited to have Australian Author, Madeline Ash, with us today. Let’s see what’s been going on in her life lately.

Jann: What inspired you to write the Cowboy Princes series?

Madeline: I fell in love with the idea of men of the land having to unexpectedly ascend into a position of extreme power. I came up with the series concept back in 2017 when I was disenchanted and despondent with the values of so many world leaders. One of the many delights of being a fiction writer is the freedom to write a better world, so I decided to pair cowboy values (hard work, respect, integrity, fairness, generosity, and truth) with leadership to see what kind of society they would create. It was very much a case of “write what you’d love to read” because the kingdom of Kiraly is pretty darn close to utopia!

Jann: When starting this new series, did you think of character, plot or theme first?

Madeline: Characters tend to come to me first during planning. For this series, I knew I wanted triplet cowboy brothers as the main characters who were also secret princes of a kingdom across the world from small-town Montana. I developed the brothers first, both how they were similar to each other and how they were different, including their personalities, strengths and weaknesses. Then I mapped out a vague series arc so that I knew I’d be plotting the individual books in the right direction! After that, my focus drilled down to plotlines, themes, and which romance tropes would be the juiciest for each brother.

Jann: Your main characters in Book One Her Cowboy King, Mark Jaroka and Princes Ava Versi, debuted on July 9, 2019. Which character did you develop first?

Madeline: Mark came first, along with his two brothers, Kris and Tommy. Once I had developed Mark’s personality—the grounded, kind-hearted, dependable brother—I then considered what type of heroine would add the most conflict to his already tumultuous journey of inheriting a throne he never believed he’d be required to possess. What kind of woman would make his arrival in Kiraly even more challenging? I know! A princess who’s under pressure from her parents to enter a strategic marriage with this new cowboy king—but secretly has plans to escape royal life, and so acts appallingly superior toward Mark in order to make him refuse the union. She was vulnerable and scared on the inside, but supercilious and sarcastic on the outside. Mark had no idea how to approach such a heroine and it made for unpredictable, tension-rich interactions.

Jann: Kris Jaroka and Frankie Cowan are the main characters in Book Two Her Cowboy Prince. Tell us about their story and how they get their HEA.

Madeline: I love this couple! They have always had intense chemistry, but haven’t wanted to risk their friendship to pursue it. Kris is the confident, cocky, roguish brother—who only discovers once he arrives in Kiraly that his kickass best friend actually works for palace security. Frankie moved to his small town of four years ago to monitor the safety of his family, and befriended him in order to get close enough to do so successfully. This betrayal fuels the opening chapters of the book, and once Kris’s reckless behavior forces her to become his personal bodyguard, their forced proximity blows their attraction sky high while their fiery attitudes add extra heat. This book is full of quick banter and serious sexual chemistry, all within the increasing tension of the overall series plot.

Jann: Congratulations on this book being a finalist in the RUBY Award (The Romantic Book of the Year) presented by Romance Writers of Australia. What was it like to receive the news?

Madeline: Thank you! It’s a huge thrill to final in these awards. This is my fifth book to place as a finalist in the Ruby Award, but the excitement doesn’t get any less over time! These awards are exclusively judged by readers (rather than entrant authors also participating in judging), so it’s extra special to be deemed worthy of this award by judges who read a lot of the genre!

 Jann: Book Three, The King’s Cowboy, is a M/M romance. What motivated you to write a M/M romance?

Madeline: I read quite a lot of LGBTQIA+ romance as well as straight romance, and have noticed that series are often exclusively one or the other, rather than including main characters from a range of sexualities across the series. To me, this doesn’t seem fully reflective of the world we live in, so I wanted to write a series that reflects the diversity of identities often found within a single family (since I’m writing three brothers).

Tommy is our final hero in this core series—reserved, intelligent, and suffering from severe social anxiety. He’s also the brother with the greatest sense of inherent power and authority. This internal struggle—to be the royal he is drawn to be, while battling the anxiety of filling one of the most public positions—is compelling and (in my wildly biased opinion) a very strong finish to the series. His love interest is Jonah, his best friend from Montana and the biggest sweetheart of a cowboy you’ll ever meet. I strove to make their romance is intense, gripping, and utterly unputdownable!

Jann: What do you hope readers will take away from this series?

Madeline:  Comfort. It’s a pure escapist read, following the unlikely lives of three fiercely-bonded brothers, who make decisions based on what’s right and just and decent, set in a vibrant, open-armed mountain kingdom that is like a character of its own. I hope that the series feels like a reassuring, warmhearted (and sexy) hug that readers want to come back to again and again.

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

Madeline: I guess I could call myself a scheduled writer? When starting a new book, I work backward from my deadline. Since I’m only able to write on Thursdays and Fridays, I check how many writing days between now and the deadline. Then I decide on an intended word count for the book, divide that by the number of days in which I have to write it, and calculate how many words per day I have to write to meet the deadline. I use that daily word count to drive my writing and generally manage to stick to it! If I fall behind for whatever reason, I’ll generally write on the weekend to catch up before the following week.

Jann: Where can we get your books?

Madeline: My books are available digitally across most ebook platforms—Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble, and some are also on Google Play. Paperback copies are available via Amazon.



Jann: What is your favorite word?

Madeline:  Seldom. I’m not sure what it is about it. Perhaps the fact that I read and hear it so seldom!

Jann: Madeline, this has been so much fun. Thank you for your time. It was great to have a peak into your writing world. Wishing you luck in the contest for the RUBY Award!!

The Cowboy Princes Series

Hover over the cover for buy links. Click on the cover for more information.


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Multi-talented author Debra Holland and her Montana Sky Series!!

July 2, 2021 by in category Jann says . . . tagged as , ,

Psychotherapist Debra Holland, Ph.D is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of the Montana Sky Series, sweet, historical Western romance. She’s a three-time Romance Writers of America Golden Heart finalist and one-time winner. In 2013, Amazon selected Starry Montana Sky as a top 50 greatest love stories pick. Her latest book is Beyond Montana’s Sky.

Dr. Debra is also the author of The Gods’ Dream Saga (fantasy romance) and the nonfiction books, The Essential Guide to Grief and Grieving and Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude: a Ten-Minute eBook. She’s a contributing author to The Naked Truth About Self-Publishing.

Learn more about her at

We’re here today with the multi-talented author Debra Holland, who will be talking about her award winning Montana Sky series and her writing.

Jann: You may have had a slow beginning, but when Wild Montana Sky made its debut in 2011, your writing career took off like a shooting star that is still shinning!! There are more than 28 books in this award-winning series. What is your secret to creating these wonderful characters and books?

Debra: Wait, there’s a secret? Haha. I don’t know the answer. I’ve had a lot of Montana Sky stories in my head for a long time, years in some cases. I’d often write the first scene of a book long before it was time to write that book. Then I keep a file on each story idea and add snippets as they come to me.

By this time, my town of Sweetwater Springs and the people in it are very real to me. That helps when creating new stories.

Jann: Do you think this series could someday come to an end?

Debra: Luckily, I have plenty more Montana Sky stories in my head. Getting them on paper…that’s always the hard part. I do plan to move to Montana Sky contemporaries at some point.

Jann: Do you have plans to write additional novels for The Gods’ Dream Saga or the Twinborne Trilogy? These fantasy romance novels have been well received by readers.

Debra: Yes and yes. The problem is that the fantasy series (The Gods’ Dream Saga) doesn’t sell nearly as well as the historical series. So it makes more sense to write Montana Sky stories. In fact, I priced the ebook of Lywin’s Quest book one of Twinborne Trilogy at $9.99, because I’m hoping no one will buy it. I don’t want to feel guilty for not (yet) finishing that series.

Jann: You have a busy schedule as Dr. Debra Holland, psychotherapist and corporate crisis/grief counselor. How do you keep your life balanced?

Debra: I don’t do anything full time. Pre-Covid, I spent a day at my office seeing psychotherapy clients, and the corporate crisis/grief work would drop on me any time and last for a few hours to several days. I’d write on the days I wasn’t working as a psychotherapist. (During Covid I’d saw people on Zoom.)

But I also carry around my laptop or hardcopy pages of my book, so I can write or edit between seeing clients.

I’ve been working almost full-time at a hospital since February, which is unusual for me. The job is supposed to last until the end of July. Unfortunately, the hospital staff are busy, work long shifts, and have a mentally tough mindset, so they haven’t really been coming to me for counseling in the way they should. So I’ve had a lot of time to write.

Jann: Tell us about Montana Sky Publishing? How did it come about?

Debra: Amazon approached me to open up a Montana Sky Kindle World, where authors wrote in my “world” and uploaded the books to the Kindle World portal. The authors would have a contract with Amazon, and I wouldn’t have anything to do with the editing or publishing process. So I invited many of my friends to write MSKW stories. Then, after a few years, Amazon closed down Kindle Worlds, stranding my authors.

So, feeling guilty, I opened a publishing company for those books as well as for new ones. A lot of my authors are from OCC—Louella Nelson, Linda Carroll-Bradd, Kristy Phillips, Alexis Montgomery, Patricia Thayer (Pat Wright,) Shauna Roberts (a former member,) and the late Linnea Alexis (Joyce Ward).

I’m slowly putting the books into audio, starting with Louella Nelson’s Harper Ranch Series, and OCC member Mary Castillo is our awesome narrator.

Jann: You have a great website. How involved were you in its creation?

Debra: Very involved. The same company has done all my websites–my writer’s site, my professional site, and the Montana Sky Publishing site.  The graphics were done by another OCC member, Lex Valentine.

Jann: What are you working on now?

Debra: It’s been a year since I published Beyond Montana’s Sky. I’m jumping around between a novella trilogy and two other novellas and a contemporary short story.

I’ve also written three long nonfiction articles for

But what I’ve really been working on since December is adapting both the Montana Sky Series and The Gods’ Dream Saga into television streaming series. Writing a pilot involved a whole new learning curve. So it’s been a lot of work (about four drafts each) but also a lot of fun. I’ve been working with industry mentors (a different one for each series) and the pilots are ready to go out.

But before that, I’ll have to put together a pitch document, which is almost as much work as writing the pilots and not nearly as much fun. Actually, not fun at all!

I have Sower of Dreams in a screenwriting contest and so far it’s moved through being a semi-finalist to a quarter-finalist. Luckily, if it actually becomes a finalist, I can exchange the script for the latest one, which is a lot different than the original.

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

 Debra: As a grief counselor, I have a lot of themes of loss and grief and moving through painful challenges to find love and happiness.

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

 Debra: The worst advice is an author or guru who tells you to write a certain way. (I’m not talking issues of craft, which is something all writers need to learn.) I think everyone has their own writing style and what works for one person won’t work for another. That doesn’t mean you can’t experiment to see if something will work for you. But stay true to yourself.

Jann: Have you ever suffered writer’s block? If so, how did/do you get past it?

Debra: Not really. There might come a part in the story where I’m stalled, mostly because I’m missing what comes next or how to make the story work. Sometimes, I just skip that section and keep on writing. I’ll go back and finish it when I figure it out. Other times, I’ll stop and take a day or two to think through what comes next, sometimes brainstorming with another author or authors.

Jann: Where can we get your books?

Debra: All my books are on Amazon.

Jann: Do you have a website, blog, twitter where fans might read more about you and your books?



 Thank you Debra for spending time here on A Slice of Orange. It’s been a real pleasure. Have a Happy 4th of July everyone!!

A Few of Debra’s Books

(Click on the cover for more information. Hover over the cover for buy links.)

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Author Justin Murphy: A man of many talents!

June 2, 2021 by in category Jann says . . .

Born November 26, 1985 in Dothan, Alabama. Whether it be Fiction or Non-Fiction, Justin Murphy has always tried to explore many themes in his work. One is probing into the darkness of pure evil with The Original Night Stalker: Portrait of A Killer, a fictional story based on a real life murderer Joseph James DeAngelo. He also enjoys exploring obscure figures often forgotten in entertainment. Such as with his most recent success Gene L. Coon: The Unsung Hero of Star Trek. It profiles the ex-Marine, pharmacist, and journalist who did the actual heavy lifting on The Original Series.

We’re here today talking with writer Justin Murphy. So let’s get started!!

Jann: At what age did you want to be a writer?

Justin: Was always told I was creative, imaginative, and lived in a fantasy world (for better AND worse)! But the moment of realization came on my 15th birthday, the desire to write hit me like an ocean wave! It was both terrifying and amazing.

Jann: What’s your favorite genre and why?

Justin: For a long time, I would’ve said Sci-Fi/Fantasy. Both for the spectacle and the idea of being transported to another world.

Yet in the years since I’ve started writing and been published, I’ve begun to prefer crime, detective, mystery. They pose questions and raise issues about our every day reality.

Jann: Your book Gene L. Coon: The Unsung Hero of Star Trek has been well received. What inspired to write about Gene L. Coon?

Justin: Read an article a few years ago announcing the documentary Batman and Bill creator Bill Finger. Read a comment on the article, saying “Someone should do the same thing on Gene Coon”. And I figured “Why not?”. Researched the online newspaper archives and every other resource I could about him.

In addition to his work on Star Trek, he sang on the radio in Omaha, Nebraska at age four. Was a Marine who served in Korea. He even ran a pharmacy for five years until becoming a screenwriter. Also did radio reports on the Atomic Bomb tests in Yucca Flats, Nevada.

Jann: I understand you are writing on a single mother detective series. Can you share a little about this series? 

Justin: Been writing installments this past year. Working on the latest one, nothing published yet. But I’ll give you a teaser. It’s about a woman who balances work and family life to an extreme by investigating missing child cases while dealing with her own special needs kids.

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

Justin: With the above-mentioned series, there are quite a few themes I keep returning to. Such as the main character’s struggle to balance single motherhood and investigating missing child cases. Of course, the issue of missing children is a recurring theme in of itself.  As well as dealing with children who are disabled, as both the character’s kids are.

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

Justin: For many years, I wrote four hours a day (based on the advice Stephen King and several other well-known authors publicized). In the last year or so, I write more whenever the mood hits, but I still try to remain consistent. Although my writing is somewhat limited by current cross-country travel.

Jann: Do you have a website, blog, or twitter where fans might read more about you and your books? 

Justin: Here are the links to my Amazon, Audible, Facebook, and Twitter pages: — Justin Murphy — Justin Murphy — Justin Murphy — Justin Murphy

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

Justin: Possibly Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury. It’s the book that really got me paying attention to words, phrases, and sentence structure. Though I’m still not perfect. Also learned not to use the same word in a paragraph twice. There’s such a flow to the way Bradbury wrote that we may try to emulate, but never fully capture. It seems we as author tend to emulate the greats until we find ourselves. 

Thank you Justin for talking with us today on A Slice Of Orange!


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