A California native, novelist Tracy Reed pushes the boundaries of her Christian foundation with her sometimes racy and often fiery tales. After years of living in the Big Apple, this self-proclaimed New Yorker draws from the city’s imagination, intrigue, and inspiration to cultivate characters and plot lines who breathe life to the words on every page. Tracy’s passion for beautiful fashion and beautiful men direct her vivid creative power towards not only novels, but short stories, poetry, and podcasts. With something for every attention span. Tracy Reed’s ability to capture an audience is unmatched. Her body of work has been described as a host of stimulating adventures and invigorating expression.
Jann: What inspired you to write The Good Girl series?
Tracy: This is a very easy question, sort of. I was asked to be in a box set and needed a book. The box set was focusing on heroines in their twenties. I had a possible book, but the heroine was older and it wasn’t possible to make her younger. I kicked around a few possibilities and then I got an idea for a book. A young Christian woman gets her dream job and how she handles the possible ethical and moral challenges. I kicked the idea around some more and started writing.
Jann: How long did it take you to develop your characters, Gabriella Townsend and Phillippe, and plot for the series?
Tracy: I’m a pantser, so all I had was a basic idea…an office romance. I develop my characters on the fly as the story unfolds. I write books with faith and sex. In all my books someone is wrestling with their hormones, urges and faith. I call it real life. People of faith or Christians are not super heroes. They face the same challenges and temptations as anyone else. It’s how they handle them that’s different.
Since I use a basic template, it didn’t take long for me to develop this story. The biggest challenge is to keep Phillippe’s identity a secret. I think I handled that pretty good. I didn’t want Gabriella to come off as naive or not bright although she’s very perceptive. She knows he’s keeping something from her, but she hasn’t been able to figure it out. I sort of address it, by having him tell her there are things about his employment contract he can’t divulge.
I knew the characters had to be the opposite of each other. Gabriella is petite, curvy, pretty and has curly hair. She loves God and has a heart for people. She values character more than money. In the beginning of the series she sounds a little immature, but when she is exposed to Phillippe’s world, she grows up fast. Her dream is to work for Morgan Grant, eventually earning a VP position and a corner office.
Phillippe is a triple threat…handsome, smart and rich. To make him even more appealing, I made him very tall, dark, part French and African. He often slips into French when he gets excited. Which makes some of the love scenes very interesting. Gabriella refers to this womanizer as a walking sex dream. He’s amassed a fortune of his own, but heading Morgan Grant isn’t something he expected to do until much later.
Jann: The Good Girl Part Trois makes its debut this month. What major conflicts do your leading characters have to work through in this book?
Tracy: The way I write books is a little sadistic. I rope you in with a semi-sweet story and slowly turn up the heat throughout the series.
This book is no different. On a scale of one to five flames, I think this is about a 3.95. Gabriella is wrestling with her emotions and raging hormones. She’s promised herself she would save herself for her husband, but that’s a lot difficult to do when your boyfriend is a walking sex dream…your boss…and neighbor. She’s adjusting to her new life, feelings for her boss and convincing it might be possible to have a future with Phillippe. There’s just one thing gnawing at her, what is Phillippe hiding?
Phillippe has been hiding his identity from the outset of the series. He’s terrified if Gabriella finds out before he proposes, she might leave him. Oops, I let one of the cats out of the bag. The reader has known from book one, who he is, but not Gabriella. In a way it seems like their relationship is built on lies, but it’s more like half-truths and secrets. Phillippe is trying to figure out why his grandfather is insisting he get married before taking over the company and why is his ex-girlfriend back in town.
Without giving too much away, a quiet vacation in Anguilla changes the course of their relationship forever.
Jann: Part One and Part Deux in The Good Girl series are novellas, why is Part Trois a full-length book?
Tracy: Book one had to be a novella for the boxset. As I was writing, I thought it was going to be a one and done. But something happened towards the end. The characters took a turn and I really wanted to see if they could make their relationship work.
In book one, the relationship happened quickly because I was on a deadline. Once I got to the end, I did a horrible thing and ended it with a cliff hanger confirming there would be another book. When I started book two, I read something about the power of cliff hangers for sales. So that’s what I did. I amped if the sexual tension and left it with a cliffhanger. I immediately started writing book three and a couple of people and a highly respected author told me no cliffhanger. Readers don’t like them unless the next book is available.
When I started the third book, I really thought it would be a novella too and that I could tie up everything. Once I started writing, the story kept going. I wish I could tell you what happens. If you’ve read the series, I don’t think you saw the ending coming. I know I didn’t. I have to admit, I was tempted to make Gabriella pregnant, but I thought that was expected. Instead I did something else while keeping Phillippe’s identity a secret from her.
Jann: How many books do you plan for this series? If there is a book four, when will it be out?
Tracy: Yes, there’s a fourth book and I think it will be the end. Book four is a result of what happened in book three. The Good Girl is now a sophisticated businesswoman engaged to her boss. That’s the only spoiler.
I’m writing the last chapters now. My goal is to release it a few months after Part Trois.
Jann: What do you hope readers will take away from this series?
Tracy: Good question. You don’t have to sacrifice your beliefs for love. Or as some would say, It’s just as easy to fall in love with a billionaire as it is to fall for the average bloke.
Jann: I understand you’re planning on rebranding your Alex series. Tell us about the series and what’s involved to rebrand it.
Tracy: The Alex series are the very first books I’d written. The series is about five best friends and a pact they made in college to never get involved with any of their exes, employees or relative. Unfortunately, they break the pact.
It was originally written as a chick lit. It was the book I used to get my agent, I had. While it was being shopped around, I wrote another book and started reading a lot. [Early in my career, I was told not to read anyone else’s work. I later found out that was some very bad advice.] The more I read, I more I knew the series needed work. I did a major rewrite.
I stand by this series. I received an Amazon review from a reader who got my style. “Book one of the series was set on simmer, but book two was a rip roaring inferno. The word used incessantly throughout the book, passion, tells you all you need to know. My favorite couple, Alex and Moses, finally get married, and boyyyyyy they dang near tear each other’s clothes off with their teeth!!! Y’all know that feeling!!!😁😁😁 The second part is just as good as the first part, but be warned, there were some unresolved issues that cropped up. There may be a book three, SURPRISE!!😄😄😄 incess. Buy it, read it and enjoy!!”
Sales have been slow and the few reviews have been pretty good. I believe in this series but know it’s time for a new look The new covers scream contemporary, which is what I want. The female body image is being replaced with man chest. I’m also changing the fonts and updating the blurbs. I’ll be testing the covers with my reader group later this month.
Jann: You’re a multi-published author. How do you stay motivated? What drives you to keep writing?
Tracy: Good question. The answer for both questions is the same. I like telling stories.
Jann: Thanks Tracy for sharing with us today. Good luck with The Good Girl Part Trois!!
Marianne H. Donley writes fiction from short stories to funny romances and quirky murder mysteries fueled by her life as a mom and a teacher. She makes her home in Tennessee with her husband, son, and a new puppy. Marianne manages the multi-author blog, A Slice of Orange. She’s a member of Bethlehem Writers Group, Romance Writers of America, Music City Romance Writers,Sisters in Crime, and Charmed Writers.
You can find all her social media links at https://linktr.ee/mariannehdonley
We’re here today with an amazing woman of many talents: Author, Editor, Wife, Mother, Friend and the woman who is the creator of this wonderful blog site—A Slice of Orange. She’s a featured author in the newest anthology from the Bethlehem Writers Groups’ awarding-winning “Sweet, Funny, and Strange” series of anthologies, FUR, FEATHERS AND SCALES!
Jann: You have two adorable tales in Fur, Feathers, and Scales, which made its debut yesterday. The first, When I Was Your Age and the second, Why Children Have Their Father’s Last Name. How did you come up with the ideas for your stories?
Marianne: From life! When I Was Your Age was based on my grandmother (my dad’s mother). She had so many stories about growing that got worse every time she told them. Why Children Have Their Father’s Last Name is totally about my husband and my sister, and they were not the good little bunnies.
Jann: I love the book cover. It’s perfect. Who did it?
Marianne: Well, now I’m blushing. Thank you. I did the front cover, and my partner-in-crime, Carol L. Wright did the back cover for the print version.
Jann: All the stories are remarkable. What was the experience like being one of the Editors for the book and one of the Authors?
Marianne: Well, we have rules.
Rule number one—you don’t edit your own stories.
Rule number two—all the stories (with the exception of the contest winners) must be workshopped by Bethlehem Writers Group at one of our semi-monthly critique meetings.
Rule number three—editing is not writing. Just because I wouldn’t write a story the way you would write that story does not mean you are wrong. Different is not wrong. We have to let the author’s voice shine through. I hope we have done that.
Rule number four—writing is not editing. If the editor makes a suggestion to me, I need to have a really good reason not to follow that suggestion.
Jann: This book has everything from unicorns to wolves to bunnies. However, the one with ants hit home with me, as I have been battling those beasts for years in my home. Tell us about how this anthology came about and the authors who are contributors from the Bethlehem Writers Group.
Marianne: Ah! The ants–Six Feet Under by Dianna Sinovic. I must say I related to that story as well. Every summer in California—ants.
When we’re brainstorming the “theme” for our next anthology our members all throw out ideas, and we debate the merits of each idea. It’s a pretty lively discussion because we have all stripes of authors–children’s, fantasy, humor, inspiration, literary, memoir, mystery, paranormal, romance, science fiction, women’s fiction, and young adult.
We look for themes that are appealing to most of the members. We also run The Short Story Award in conjunction with the theme of our anthologies. So, we look for ideas that we think will attract the interest of other authors. We always interpret the theme—broadly—so there is a lot of creative leeway for the authors to come up with a sweet, funny, or strange story.
The first anthology was a natural—A Christmas Sampler—because we’re based in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, The Christmas City. Animal stories, I believe, was suggested by Jeff Baird. He writes very heart-felt stories about the dogs in his life.
Our next anthology, scheduled for 2022, is An Element of Mystery, Sweet, Funny and Strange Tales of Intrigue. The Short Story Award opens for entries on January 1st.
Authors interested in submitting to The Short Story Award might like to read some of the finalist for Fur, Feathers, and Scales to see what we like. The second place, third place and honorable mention stories will be published in the 2021 Winter Issue of The Bethlehem Writers Roundtable, our online magazine—also available January 1st. You, Jann, will recognize one of the honorable mentions—Louella Nelson! (I may have shouted when her name was announced.)
Any member of BWG can submit a story (or two or three) to our anthologies, providing it has been workshopped by the whole group. Any member can elect not to submit a story. Since we’re working on our seventh anthology, I think we have a system that works.
Jann: I know you write short stories, romances and murder mysteries. Is any one of these genres your favorite? What are you currently working on?
Marianne: I go back and forth. My mysteries always have a romance sub-plot and my romances usually have a dead body somewhere. Probably from all those Mary Stewart and Elizabeth Peters novels I read over and over. Currently, short stories seem to be the easiest for me to finish. Right now, I’m working on a cozy-ish novel with a romance and plotting a short mystery.
Jann: With everything going on in your life, how do you keep it all together?
Marianne: That made me laugh. So . . .
1) Don’t look in my closets.
2) Dennis does the grocery shopping and birthday shopping and Christmas shopping. He wraps the presents, too. (Okay sort of—gift bags are his favorite and he hates bows. But since I don’t have to do it, I’m good with this.)
3) I only need about 6 hours of sleep every night. No matter what time I go to bed, I walk up 6 hours later. I do work on thinks when everyone else is sleeping.
4) I have a lot of friends who help out. Look how seamless A Slice of Orange ran when my son had a medical emergency this Spring.
5) I have a lot of family who are also willing to help. All I have to do is ask.
Jann: This was so much fun. Thank you, Marianne, for spending time with us talking about Fur, Feathers, and Scales, which is available now, and you.
Greta Boris is the author of The 7 Deadly Sins, standalone novels of psychological suspense. Ordinary women. Unexpected Evil. Taut psychological thrillers that expose the dark side of sunny Southern California. Her stories have been called atmospheric, twisty, and un-put-downable.
She’s also the Co-Creator of The Author Wheel, a site for writers on writing, and a popular conference speaker and workshop instructor. She describes her work (and her life) as an O.C. housewife meets Dante’s Inferno. You can visit her at http://gretaboris.com.
We are talking today with Greta Boris about her intriguing series about the 7 Deadly Sins. Let’s get started.
Jann: Where did you get the idea to write about the seven deadly sins?
Greta: I took a course on writing a series and learned that there are many different kinds. I knew I wasn’t ready to write the typical mystery series with the same sleuth appearing in every book, and I really enjoyed suspense stories that revolved around an “every-woman” kind of character. I needed a theme that could tie those kinds of stories together while allowing them to also stand alone. Since all crime and most stupid mistakes–which my characters always make–stem from one or more of the seven deadlies, it seemed a good fit.
Jann: You have a theme for each book—what comes next? Do you work on your characters or the plot first?
Greta: Since the character for the next in series is always introduced in the book before and often characters show up in many stories, I guess you could say I work on the characters first. However, I also think some characters lend themselves to certain kinds of stories so the two—plot and character—evolve together.
Jann: You have written and published four of the deadly sins. The Scent of Wrath, A Margin of Lust, The Sanctity of Sloth, The Color of Envy. Did you know in advance the order of the sins you wanted to write for this series? Why did you start with wrath?
Greta: Actually, the first book is A Margin of Lust. I wish I had started with Wrath because my book got confused with erotica and romance novels in the beginning! The order comes from the order in which the sins are punished in Dante’s Inferno. The more severe the sin, the farther down in the circles you find it. Lust is at the top, not considered too bad by Dante. Pride is punished in the lower circles of hell. It’s not necessary to read them in order, however. Readers can start with the plot that sounds most interesting, or start at the beginning.
Jann: Your main characters so far are all women. Will this be the case in the remaining books? Why?
Greta: Yes. Selfishly, I wanted to explore new careers vicariously through my characters. Gwen is a Realtor for high-end beach real estate. Olivia works in a Pilates studio and spends a bunch of time experimenting with essential oils. Abby is a writer and Rosie an interior designer. I’m interested in all these things and or have dabbled in them. It’s easier for me to mind-meld with a woman since I am one.
Jann: A Pinch of Gluttony, book five in the series, debuts today. Congratulations!! Honey Wells is your main character. Who is Honey and what challenges does she have to overcome?
Greta: Honey is a chef, shop owner, and cooking instructor. When the story opens, she’s hiking with her very fit fireman husband, because she’s had a bad doctor’s report. She’s overweight, high-cholesterol, insulin resistant, etc. Her problems are exacerbated by the fact that her brother-in-law has disappeared with most of their savings, so she’s working around the clock to make up the difference. When she and hubby find a dead body everything gets much worse. Dead bodies tend to have that effect on things.
Jann: Do you have a sin you like the best? The least? Why?
Greta: I’ve really enjoyed writing them all. I think The Color of Envy was the most difficult because it’s my besetting sin. I’m more apt to struggle with envy than the others. Maybe because of that, I also think it might be the best of the bunch so far. However, my publisher loves The Sanctity of Sloth most, and my editor thinks A Pinch of Gluttony is best.
Jann: What do you hope readers will take away from this series?
Greta: I hope they will be both entertained and challenged. We all have blind spots and sometimes it’s easiest to recognize our own through watching someone else screw up. A book reviewer who featured The Sanctity of Sloth on her website said the book made her cry in some sections because she related to Abby. She loved watching Abby’s struggle to act even when the consequences of not acting were dire then, ultimately, overcoming her reticence. Others were very irritated by Abby, but understood Gwen’s lust for success.
Jann: Are you working on book six? Can you tell us which sin you have selected and when it will be available?
Greta: Yes! I’m working on The Key of Greed, and saving pride for last. It’s a fun take on a locked room mystery. Willow, my main character, is younger than most of the others. She’s Honey’s (A Pinch of Gluttony) daughter. She’s a violinist, pregnant, and engaged to be married. I believe it’s scheduled for release February, 2021.
Jann: What are you working on now? Can you tell us about your next project?
Greta: As I said, I’m writing Greed now, but I’m also planning a new series—The Mortician Murder Mystery series. It’s about a young, Rock-a-billy hairstylist to the aged who gets a request to do the hair and makeup for one of her client’s funerals. When she gets to the mortuary, she discovers the woman’s death, just like her hair color, wasn’t as natural as everybody thought. It’s so much fun to write something with a bit of humor for a change. The Seven Deadly Sins have moments here and there, but they’re not funny books. The other series is much more light-hearted despite the name!
Jann: What’s the funniest (or sweetest or best or nicest) thing a fan ever said to you?
Greta: I just received a review for Gluttony that said my writing was a cross between Kathy Reichs’ and Karin Slaughter’s. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Jann: Do you have a website, blog, twitter where fans might read more about you and your books?
Greta: I have a website, http://gretaboris.com/,where readers can read my occasional ponderings, find out more about my books, and pick up a free novella, The Escape Room. I wrote a novella prequel to the Sins series called The Origin of Sin, which is available on Kindle Unlimited at the moment. The Escape Room takes those same characters and sends them into an escape room game that goes horribly wrong. It’s lots of fun. I’m also on Facebook and occasionally Twitter. https://www.facebook.com/greta.boris/
Thank you Greta for joining us here on A Slice of Orange. You have a very fascinating series with wonderful characters. Good luck with A Pinch of Gluttony!
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.
We’ve taken over Jann Ryan’s column this month, but don’t worry, she will be back in November.
These two interviews first appeared on Bethlehem Writers Roundtable. Rebecca has graciously updated them for inclusion on A Slice of Orange.
Rebecca Forster marketed a world-class spa when it was still called a gym, did business in China before there were western toilettes at the Great Wall, and mucked around with the sheep to find out exactly how her client’s fine wool clothing was manufactured. Then she wrote her first book and found her passion.
Now, thirty-five books later, she is a USA Today and Amazon best-selling author and writes full-time. Most recently, she released the Finn O’Brien crime thrillers – three books about a shunned cop and his single-mother partner who work the meanest streets of Los Angeles while the Witness series continues to enthrall readers and listeners. Hostile Witness, the first book in the popular series, was released by Tantor Publishing and was voiced by Anne Marie Lee who most recently narrated Gillian Flynn’s, Sharp Objects.
She is a popular speaker at writing conferences as well as women’s and business groups and has taught at the acclaimed UCLA Writers Program. She is married to a Los Angeles Superior Court judge and is the mother of two grown sons. Alex is a talent manager and producer, and Eric who has been living overseas researching a book. Rebecca spends her free time traveling, sewing, and playing tennis.
Marianne: Did you grow up knowing you wanted to write? If not, when did you realize you were an author?
Rebecca: No, I didn’t even think about writing until I was in my thirties and then I only began because someone dared me to try. After going to college and graduate school, I worked in advertising. My client was married to an author I had never heard of–Danielle Steel! When I found out who she was, I made a comment to a colleague that “I could do that (write a novel).” My co-worker dared me to do it, and the rest is history. I had no idea I had it in me. However, I don’t think I really thought of myself as an author until my eighth or ninth book. I kept thinking each published book was a fluke. Then one day I realized how deep my commitment was to writing and how passionate I was about becoming the best writer I could be. That was the day I became an author.
Marianne: You started writing contemporary romances and now write thrillers. How did that happen?
Rebecca: I look back on my romances and contemporary women’s fiction novels and realize almost every one of them dealt with a lawyer or some aspect of the law. I guess I thought writing about the law was really for men and especially men who were lawyers. I found my stride when I gave myself permission to write what I really loved. Well, that and my editor at Kensington basically fired me from romance. He said, “You can’t keep killing everyone before they fall in love.” That was a good hint I should change genres.
Marianne: You are not a lawyer, yet you write gripping legal fiction. What happened to the “write what you know” advice writers always seem to get?
Rebecca: The truth is I sort of ‘write what I know.’ My husband has had an amazing career, first as a federal prosecutor specializing in organized crime and terrorism, and then as a judge who handles high profile cases. Our circle of friends includes DEA agents, police, private eyes, court reporters, and lawyers of every ilk. Pretty much I’m a legal voyeur. I read the legal newspapers, watch the news. I love everything having to do with the law, but I never had a desire to actually become a lawyer. As much as I love the technical aspects of the law, I never forget a book is about characters. There is nothing more exciting than pitting a single person against a system. The justice system makes for great personal drama.
Marianne: How much research do you do for your books?
Rebecca: It really depends on the storyline. If it’s a courtroom drama, I do a lot of research including seeking help for appropriate cross-examination and how to explain a legal premise without it coming across like I’m presenting a research paper. Some of my books are more character driven and inspired by some aspect of the law but are not procedurals. When my characters don’t spend much time is spent in the courtroom, then the research is limited. My favorite research, though, was for Eyewitness. I researched the legal system in, of all places, Albania. My son was serving in the Peace Corps, and when we went to visit his village, I came away with an incredible story about the centuries-old system of cultural justice that I combined with our modern judicial system. I love that book.
Marianne: Tell us about your current book. Where can we buy your books?
Rebecca: I’m working on book number eight of The Witness Series and book number four of the Finn O’Brien Crime Thrillers. I actually hadn’t planned on writing Lost Witness but fans kept asking me “what happened to Billy?” I thought they would enjoy using their imaginations to determine an end for that character. Now that I know they want to know how I would handle his ending, I’m hard at work figuring it out. I hope everyone is happy when they finally find out what happens to Billy. The next Finn O’Brien book is Intimate Relations. Finn and his partner, Cori, are turning into a wonderful duo. Instead of writing about Los Angeles in general, I am setting the crimes in the pockets of Los Angeles many people don’t know about like Little Ethiopia. It’s very exciting. And, of course, the big news is Tantor producing all seven of the current Witness Series books for audio. I just heard the first one and it’s so exciting.
You can purchase digital, paperback and audio copies of my work on every online bookstore – Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks and so many others. You can also visit my website and find sample chapters, book club guidelines and, of course, link buttons.
Marianne: For over 25 years and 25 books, you were traditionally published. Why did you decide to launch your indie career?
Rebecca: One of the reasons was because of a book I wrote called Before Her Eyes. I truly wanted that book to have an audience. Good or bad, I just needed to put it out there. The book was inspired by my dad and my father in law’s illnesses. They passed within three months of one another, and I was privileged to witness what did pass ‘before their eyes’ at the end of their life. For me, there was no question but that book needed to be published and that I was going to have to do it myself. At some point, I think all authors have a ‘book of their heart’ that pushes their creative envelope. This was mine.
Also, the publishing world was changing. Bookstores were disappearing, publishers were not buying as much as they used to. I really felt it was my time to either move forward or retire after twenty-five years in the business. That was three years ago. I am so happy I moved forward. The creative freedom, the ease with which I can engage with readers, the ability to price my books reasonably are all reasons why being indie has been so fabulous.
Marianne: What do you know now that you wished you’d know before you went indie?
Rebecca: I wish I had created a better work model earlier so that my writing time was not given up for marketing time. Writers truly need to understand that whether they publish traditionally or as an indie, this is a business and not all about creativity.
Marianne: What advice would you give to emerging writers?
Rebecca: Develop your unique voice. The best compliment I ever had was when a reader said, “Even without a cover, I would know I was reading one of your books.” That’s what I think every author should strive for: defining and perfecting their voice. It takes a lot of trial and error, but when you ‘hear’ it, you’ll know.
Marianne: What’s the best thing about being an author?
Rebecca: Every experience, emotion, bit of knowledge, and dream I ever had or will have is relevant to what I do.
Marianne: What’s your writing day like?
Rebecca: I am up at 5:30, read the paper, clean at least one room in the house and then take my computer to Coffee Cartel and set up at my favorite table near the fake suit of armor. I’ve been going there for 17 years, almost every day. I write from about 8:00 a.m. To 2:00-3:00 p.m. I pack my lunch. In the evening I answer fan mail, emails, Twitter, Facebook and anything else that comes my way.
Marianne: Do you listen to music when you write?
Rebecca: I listen to talk radio and Pandora.com while I write. I have everything from Classic Baroque to Johnny Cash and show tunes on my playlist.
Marianne: In your books, who is your favorite character and why?
Rebecca: Here are two. Hannah Sheraton, the sixteen-year-old ward of attorney Josie Bates in The Witness Series is one of my favorites. She is beautiful and flawed; a kid and yet incredibly wise because she has had to fend for herself for so long. She is fiercely loyal and holds hope deep in her heart. I’d like to be as brave and loyal as Hannah. The second is Tessa, the heroine in BEFORE HER EYES. She’s a woman who objectively looks at her life – full of hard knocks, mistakes, misunderstandings – and forgives herself. As death closes in, Tessa understands that she played the hand she was dealt as best she could. Now that Finn and Cori have come on the scene though, I’d have to include them. I suppose, bottom line, an author can’t pick a favorite any more than a mother can pick a favorite child.
Marianne: You’ve written both romance and thrillers –very different genres. Why?
Rebecca: At the beginning of my writing career, romance/women’s fiction had guidelines that gave me parameters. I can’t thank the women’s fiction editors I worked with enough for their guidance. Because of them, I learned the craft and eventually found my true voice in thrillers. Really, though, it’s a matter of emphasis. Each of my romances had a thriller element, and each of the thrillers has a solid relationship.
Marianne: What’s your all-time favorite book?
Rebecca: For an indie book I would pick Eternal L.A. by Eric Czuleger (yep, my son). I love the vision for the future in this collection of short stories but what I really admire is that they are each about compassion and love in a time when the world seems to be all about technology
Marianne: What‘s on your To-Be-Read pile?
Rebecca: Eric Larsen’s, THE GARDEN OF THE BEASTS (nonfiction), BRAINRUSH, another Indie fiction by Richard Bard. THE LINCOLN LAWYER by Michael Connelly. A zillion magazines for research and for fun. I could go on.
Marianne: What’s your favorite song?
“Danny Boy.” When Johnny Cash sings it, I cry. “Ring of Fire,” of course. “Happy Birthday” because everyone smiles even though no one can sing it well.
Marianne: What’s your favorite movie?
Rebecca: These questions are hard! Prelude to a Kiss. Yep, a romantic comedy. Oh, and Beetlejuice. And Legally Blond. And Zombie movies. We see a lot of Zombie movies.
Marianne: You tell the funniest stories, why don’t you write humor?
Rebecca: I have a secret. One day my mother asked me “Why don’t you write books without bodies”. So, for her 89th birthday, I wrote the Bailey Devlin trilogy about a young woman who is struggling to make her way in the world and just as all her hard work is going to pay off, someone appears on her doorstep that changes her life. The Day Bailey Devlin’s Horoscope Came True is the first book and it’s free. It’s a sweet, funny, charming trilogy. No sex, lots of love, some laugh-out-loud moments.
Marianne: What’s the funniest (or sweetest or best or nicest) thing a fan ever said to you?
Rebecca: That if John Grisham and Lisa Scottoline had a literary child, it would be me!
Marianne: If you could be on a TV reality show which would it be.
Rebecca: Project Runway!
Marianne: If you could travel back in time, who would you like to meet and why?
Rebecca: A pioneer woman who walked beside a wagon across the desert in a long dress and high-topped boots, set down roots in the middle of nowhere, raised children without benefit of a ‘village.’ I would want to ask her if she was ever afraid, what did she love, who did she love.
Marianne: If a spaceship landed in your backyard and the aliens on board offered to take you for a ride, would you go? Why or why not?
Rebecca: I’d go in a snap, but they would have to take my husband and boys, too. We all love adventure. Recently, I landed on an aircraft carrier via tail hook and spent two ‘Top Gun” days on the U.S.S. Nimitz. If I can do that, I’d certainly head off in a spaceship!
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