Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I dreamed of writing since childhood. I finished my first romance novel in high school, and I was so crushed when I received a rejection letter I put aside my dream to write, changed my major in college, and got a “real” job. I buried my dream to write for many years in a high stress career as a government social worker. A few years ago I had an epiphany, and I decided to chase my dream no matter what. Replace “older and wiser” with “sassy with life experiences” and it’s a fair description of me. I completed my first novel, WOLF EYE SLY, in December 2013. It is now a quarter finalist in the 2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest. These days I write for the joy of writing, and for me that has made all the difference.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
WOLF EYE SLY is a romantic comedy centered around a lighthouse on the shores of Lake Superior in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Although Wolf Eye is a fictional town, I became inspired with the story when I visited Munising Michigan on a hiking trip with my college age daughter. I laid eyes on the East Channel Lighthouse and I became intrigued, and later when I researched the history of the lighthouse and read about the community restoration project I was suddenly inspired to write. A town full of eccentric characters and a mysterious treasure rounded out my inspiration. Here is the pitch to my story.
Did someone whisper buried treasure? Secrets were taken to the lighthouse keeper’s grave, literally; but no one thinks to search the cemetery. Wolf Eye, a small town in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, is full of eccentric characters playing con games, and there’s a lot more at stake than just a real estate deal.
For Annie Matthews, growing up as the lighthouse keeper’s granddaughter meant she was bullied and teased in school. Her grandfather’s long-running feud with Wolf Eye’s wealthiest citizen made him the town laughing stock.
As an adult, Annie is forced to return to Wolf Eye to settle her grandfather’s affairs, but finds herself pulled into old politics. In an ironic turn of events, she poses as fiancée to Jamie Lord, the handsome heir of her grandfather’s fiercest enemy. Jamie is a charismatic charmer, but can he be trusted?
Jamie rescues Annie with flair; whether it’s a cabin fire, a band of thieving raccoons, or a heckling mob at Lillie’s Café. From their first kiss Annie’s pulse is dancing the Rumba.
The lines of their sham engagement blur, but happiness is short-lived. Enemies throw a surprise wedding and everyone in town shows up. Everyone, that is, except the groom. Annie flees Wolf Eye, but the story isn’t over, for she has some tricks of her own to be played.
WOLF EYE SLY is a contemporary romance with laugh out loud plot twists along the journey to happily ever after.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
Coffee and chocolate get me through. I am laughing. I guess those two food groups are essentials for many of us.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
There are three authors that have influenced me greatly.
Judith McNaught and her lovable characters are big favorites of mine. I especially admire “Whitney My Love” and “Paradise.” The hero Matthew Farrell in “Paradise” is my all time favorite hero in a contemporary romance.
Janet Evanovich and her unique brand of humor in her Stephanie Plum series has been a big influence on me. Ms. Evanovich states she took improv classes to learn to write her witty one line zingers and hilarious situations. I learned to loosen up and practice my own style of humor.
Diana Gabaldon and her Outlander series has been complete inspiration for me, and I owe it to Diana for changing my life. After reading “Dragonfly in Amber” I was so captivated I revisited my own dream to write. Her character Jamie Fraiser is so incredibly lovable he feels like an old friend, and he is by far my favorite hero in any historical romance. I view Diana as a role model, and I am very excited to have a ticket to see her speak in Traverse City Michigan on July 7, 2014.
What are you working on now?
I am finishing up WOLF EYE ALIBI, the second in my Wolf Eye Lighthouse Series.
Here is the opening of Chapter One.
The wedding ceremony came to an abrupt halt when the bride and groom were arrested.
Just before the “I do’s,” two deputies marched up to the gazebo and pulled out handcuffs. Wedding guests burst into shouts that resembled spectators at a sporting event. Exclamations of surprise and protest mingled with laughter and glee. Some guests threw hats into the air and cheered.
My jaw dropped. Weddings aren’t like this where I come from.
Cameras popped like fireworks on the Fourth of July. The crowd abandoned the white lawn chairs and surged across Lord Estate toward center stage, trampling elegant gardens as they clamored to witness justice in action. Pushing and shoving gave way to cussing and swearing, and someone grabbed a handful of the ten tier wedding cake standing in magnificent splendor under a catering tent and smashed it into someone’s face. The recipient of the cake snatched a punch bowl and tossed it into the air over the crowd. I held my breath and watched the red contents in the crystal bowl spin round and round, suspended for a long second, before raining down over the wedding guests. Think wet t-shirt contest meets Jell-o wrestling.
It was an all out food fight after that, and every guest seemed eager to participate. Townsfolk gave new meaning to the term tossed salad. Little old ladies dumped condiments into the laps of their spouses. The suspendered little old men heaved finger sandwiches toward the ladies in response to their gifts of mayonnaise and mustard.
White uniformed household staff stood in shocked disbelief as a banquet table full of covered chafing dishes was overturned. Shrimp Scampi and Lobster Thermidor became flying projectiles. A gray haired woman wearing a chef’s hat wailed upon the shoulder of an elderly butler. The white gloved gentleman tried to comfort the cook until a lobster tail smacked him in the face and knocked off his glasses.
A mustached man wearing snakeskin cowboy boots laughed with particular satisfaction until something hit him in the chest. He looked down to discover he’d caught the bridal bouquet.
All this was happening and more, but I wasn’t paying much attention for I was sputtering with outrage as my best friend was handcuffed and charged like she was one of America’s Most Wanted.
“Anne Matthews, you are under arrest for the murder of Francine Stouffer,” one of the deputies spat at the bride. He proceeded to read her rights.
Annie only had time to gasp before the next blow came.
“James Lord, you are under arrest for the murder of Francine Stouffer,” the second deputy charged as he jerked the groom’s arms behind his back and locked cuffs with enthusiasm.
From my stand point beside the bride I had an unobstructed view of Jamie’s gaze locked upon Annie’s face. Shock, denial, and outrage were all communicated in that glance.
The deputies pulled the bride and groom apart with unnecessary force. The minister clutched his Bible to his chest and jumped back out of the way. I remained rooted to the spot.
“I love you Jamie,” Annie cried.
“I love you Annie,” Jamie called after her. “Say I do! Say I do!”
“No you don’t,” the first deputy said. He gripped Annie’s forehead and forcibly turned her face away. Her bridal veil tore and her auburn hair slipped from the pins of her elegant quaff. The representative of the law jerked the bride down the gazebo steps. The train of her exquisite Vera Wang wedding dress trailed limply behind.
“I do, Jamie! I do!” Annie sobbed.
“It doesn’t count unless I pronounce you man and wife,” the minister muttered. “Under the circumstances I don’t think it would be appropriate…”
Jamie’s face contorted in fury. “Get your hands off her!” he shouted at the departing deputy.
“Come along peacefully,” the deputy beside Jamie said. “It’ll look better for you if you cooperate.”
Jamie bellowed with rage and took a step toward Annie. He dropped to his knees when Taser rays struck his back. I flinched, feeling his pain.
I’d known Annie’s fiancé for only twenty four hours but already I understood why she loved him. Jamie was lethally handsome, but it was more than that. He was genuine. A charmer. A charismatic singer and a savvy businessman. And most of all Jamie loved Annie with all his heart.
I heard Annie whimper as she was dragged away. That’s when my city girl street smarts kicked in.
Who am I? I’m the bridesmaid.
“Officer! Wait!” I tossed my bouquet over my shoulder and rushed down the gazebo steps, teetering on my blue satin stilettos that were dyed to match the blue satin of my bridesmaid dress. I grabbed the deputy’s arm. “You’ve forgotten something.”
He turned an impatient gaze my way. From close range his eyes looked like steely pellets floating in yellow custard. He made a move to shrug from my grasp and I fluttered my eyelashes at him in a grand show of feminine distress. He paused.
“Forgot something?” he repeated. “Who are you?”
I resisted rolling my eyes. Didn’t my bridesmaid getup give the guy a clue? Instantly I figured I may have a chance to outwit him if I talked fast.
“Mia! Help!” Annie pleaded. Tears streamed down her face. Moments earlier she had radiated with happiness, about to marry the love of her life. Now she was charged with murder. My heart wrenched in sympathy. I had to do something.
Nearby the food fight was gaining momentum. In my peripheral vision I caught sight of something hurling our way at high speed. I ducked. A caviar stuffed mushroom cap struck the deputy on the cheek and he broke eye contact with me. I clutched his arm to gain it back.
“I’m Mia Savantini,” I said as I batted my eyes like hummingbird wings. “I’m sure you’ve heard of Senator Savantini.”
The deputy’s brows narrowed. “Never heard of him.”
Okay, it was a stretch. The senator was my cousin twice removed on my father’s side, and he wasn’t from Michigan. I thought fast. “Of course you know Prosecuting Attorney Douglas Savantini,” I said in a confident tone.
The deputy scowled. “No.” His lips pressed into a thin line.
I had to come up with someone or I would lose him. In desperation I pulled a name out of the air.
“Joe Savantini?” I squeaked, barely recognizing my own voice. I sounded like a whining school girl.
The deputy did a double take. “Joe Savantini, the boxer?”
My eyes lit up. The oaf had heard of my brother!
“That’s right,” I purred. “My uncle the prosecuting attorney was just telling my brother the boxer there is something important that must be declared at the moment of arrest if you plan to convict in a trial.”
Annie’s teary eyes locked on mine, shouting volumes. She knew me well and knew I was making this up as I went along. I gazed back at her with calm reassurance.
“Something must be declared?” The lawman’s eyes shifted uneasily as he wondered what he had forgotten.
“That’s right. Just because women will be all over you like you are a rock star for making this big arrest doesn’t mean you should get hasty. When you can’t convict you’ll be slammed in the press and made a fool.” I stroked his arm as though admiring his muscles.
He glanced at my hand, and then looked into my eyes and blinked. “Rock star?”
“What’s your name?” I cooed.
“Gordon,” he said sheepishly.
“Gordon, you know how women are. They’ll be following you like groupies when news gets out of this big arrest.” I flashed him a dazzling smile and batted my eyelashes some more. Annie rolled her eyes.
“They will?” He sounded doubtful, yet pleased.
“Sure they will,” I said. “Lots of women.” I glanced toward Annie. She might have been inclined to laugh if she wasn’t sniffling back tears.
“I don’t really know many women,” he confessed. “What was it your uncle was telling Joe Savantini? Damn, he’s a great boxer.”
I smiled. I had the fish on the hook now. All I had to do was reel him in.
“My uncle was saying it’s especially important when it comes to murder charges that you declare all the facts that led up to the arrest.”
The deputy frowned. “That’s what the trial is for.” He pulled Annie’s arm and we all stepped aside a foot to avoid two wedding guests smearing each other with cake frosting.
“But this is a murder trial, Gordon.” I gave a pretty pout. “This is big, and women will be watching you. Make sure you do everything by the book and you’ll be better off.” I paused for effect. “You may even end up with a promotion when this is all over.”
He nodded in agreement. “I better get a promotion outa this.”
“Tell me all the facts, Gordon,” I wheedled. “What led up to you arresting Annie?”
He thought a moment. “She has motive. And so does he.” Gordon jerked his thumb in the direction of Jamie being led away.
“When did the murder occur, Gordon?” I squeezed his bicep once more.
He beamed. “That one’s easy. Last night.”
Annie choked out a gasp. I did a double take and then smiled.
“Gordon, I know without a doubt Annie is innocent,” I declared happily.
He swallowed in confusion. “Why do you say that?”
“Because I was with Annie all last night,” I said, so relieved there would be an easy solution to this whole ridiculous mistake. “It was Annie’s bachelorette party. I’m her alibi.”
His eyes narrowed. “Then maybe I oughta arrest you too.”
I was so intent on forming my response I didn’t notice the silver platter slicing through the air like a Frisbee until it was too late.
I glanced toward it just as it cracked into my forehead. And then everything went black.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I am very impressed by Awesomegang.com, and I am not just saying that because it is your website! I was very pleased with the well organised and highly detailed email communication I received from you. Thank you for this opportunity to do an interview!
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Listen to feedback. The best writing occurs during re-writing. Loosen up and find your own voice. All writers are readers first, so read every day.
And most of all, never give up.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
The best advice on writing I have ever heard is a quote from Stephen Kind in his book, “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.”
“There is a muse, but he’s not going to come fluttering down into your writing room and scatter creative fairy-dust all over your typewriter or computer. He lives in the ground. He’s a basement kind of guy. You have to descend to his level, and once you get down there you have to furnish an apartment for him to live in. You have to do all the grunt labor, in other words, while the muse sits and smokes cigars and admires his bowling trophies and pretends to ignore you. Do you think it’s fair? I think it’s fair. He may not be much to look at, that muse-guy, and he may not be much of a conversationalist, but he’s got inspiration. It’s right that you should do all the work and burn all the mid-night oil, because the guy with the cigar and the little wings has got a bag of magic. There’s stuff in there that can change your life. Believe me, I know.”
This is what I extrapolated from Mr. King’s statement: writing is work. Writer’s often whine about writer’s block, but the muse doesn’t just fall into your lap without some effort on your part. You have to do the grunt work, and dig deep, because ‘The muse is a basement kind of guy.”
What are you reading now?
I just finished “The Bronze Horseman” series by Paullina Simons, which is ‘The Bronze Horseman,” “Tatiana and Alexander,” and ‘The Summer Garden.” It is a sweeping historical romance that begins in Russia during World War II. If you like compelling characters, nail biting suspense, detailed history, and achingly tender love scenes, you will love these books! I give them all five stars. I know I really love a book when I want to read it slowly because I am enjoying it so much, and yet I stay up all night reading because I can’t put the book down.
What’s next for you as a writer?
I have more ideas in mind for future books in the Wolf Eye Lighthouse series., and then I plan to visit my first love, which is historical romance. My daughter and I are planning a trip to Ireland, Scotland, and the UK next year and I shall be gathering plot ideas.
If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
That’s a tough one! Please, please, may I keep my Kindle?
Author Websites and Profiles
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