An Interview with Author Gemma Halliday

Gemma HallidayGemma had a hard time figuring out what she wanted to be when she grew up. She worked as a film and television actress, a teddy bear importer, a department store administrator, a preschool teacher, a temporary tattoo artist, and a 900 number psychic, before finally selling her first book, Spying in High Heels, in 2005 and deciding to be a writer.

Since then, Gemma has written several mystery novels and been the recipient of numerous awards, including a National Reader’s Choice award and three RITA nominations. She now makes her home in the San Francisco Bay area where she is hard at work on her next book. Gemma is a lovely woman with a riotous side she showcases in her hilarious novels and was kind enough to take some time for an interview with me, so sit back and enjoy!

How would you say you have evolved as a writer over time?

I would like to think that the more I write, the better I get at it, but I’ll leave that to readers to decide. 😉

When you’re not writing, what are your favorite ways to relax and have some fun?

I’m a shopaholic. I feel most at home at the mall, so I love to spend my down-time there. When my wallet can’t take it anymore, I like spending time at the beach or at the park with my kids.

Of all the books you have written, do you have a favorite? If so, which one and why?

It’s hard to say I have a favorite, but one book that will always have a soft spot in my heart is SPYING IN HIGH HEELS, mostly because it was the first book I ever published.
GH Spying_4in

Do you have plans to write other genres in the future?

I’m currently writing four different series, so that’s enough for me to keep track of. All of them have elements of mystery to them, but two are more humorous (the High Heels Mysteries and the Hollywood Headlines Mysteries), one is more of an action thriller (PLAY NICE), and one is for young adults (the Deadly Cool books).

 

Has your life changed since you’ve become a published author? If so, how?

I get to do what I love all do long! Okay, I’ll admit that it is work sometimes, but it’s really an amazing thing to be able to make a living off of your passion.

Have you ever had an embarrassing moment at a booksigning?

I guess the most embarrassing thing for me is that I’m a terrible speller. I always ask people to spell their names for me when I sign books. Which earns me some interesting looks form the “Janes”s and “Susan”s of the world.

I have found that some authors listen to music while they write. Do you listen to music or is it something that is distracting to you?

Usually, I don’t listen to music. But once in a while, if I’m at a really noisy Starbucks and need to drown people out, I’ll listen to classical music while I write.GH BabyItsColdOutside_4in

Do you ever fear writer’s block or that you’ll let your audience down?

All the time. I think every writer has this fear. With every book that I start, I worry that it won’t be as good as the last one. I just try to push that voice to the back of my head and write anyway.

Do you belong to any writers groups and what do you feel you have gained from the social sites?

Writing is very solitary, so it’s been amazingly important for me to belong to writers groups. Most of the groups I belong to are online, but it gives me somewhere to go where others get what I’m going through. I can whine about edits and everyone knows exactly what I’m talking about.

Are there any characters in your books that represent you?

I think there’s a little bit of me in all of my books, but I’d say that the character that is most like myself is Maddie Springer, the heroine from my High Heels Mysteries. When I first wrote her, my mother read the book, then comments, “You wrote a book about yourself!”

How much of the characters and story lines come from people you know and your own experiences versus your imagination?

I steal a lot from people I know. Usually my basic plots are totally made up (I’ve never actually found a dead body), but a lot of the characters and places I write about are real.
GH angerousBond_5in

Can you tell us one thing about yourself that most of your fans don’t already know?

I’m very short and always have to ask for help reaching items from the top shelves in stores.
What do you feel are the benefits of the new electronic readers to the environment?

I love paper books, but what always bugged me about them is that bookstores generally order way more copies than they need, keep them on the shelves for a couple of months, then strip the covers off of the leftover books and send them back for a refund. Usually at least 30-40% off the books originally ordered are destroyed and returned. Not only is this sad to an author – my babies are being destroyed! – but also incredibly wasteful. So, I love that with ebooks some of that waste is eliminated.

What impact do electronic readers create on the bottom line for authors in the end? Do you feel they have a negative impact or positive, or no impact at all that you can see?

For me, they have had an incredibly positive impact. I’ve been self-publishing several titles in primarily electronic form, and the returns have been staggering compared to what print returns in the past have been.BrashBlonde_5in

Visit Gemma’s website and publishing website for the latest dish.

View the original article on blogcritics.org
Copyright © 2011 by Diane Morasco

Coming Soon: Stranded by Diane Morasco

DM Stranded cvr

Publisher House: J Fox Ink Publishing
Author: Diane Morasco
Release date: Winter 2016
Series: Stranded  (New Hampshire Thriller Trilogy)

Buried secrets kill . . .

I know who you are. I know what you did. I know where they are. When Avery Daniels reads these words carved into her garage door, her universe smashes to bits. Ten years ago, she was lauded bestselling mystery writer Melanie Clark—until a psychotic stalker turned her life into a terrifying nightmare. Now ensconced in the seaside town of Stranded, New Hampshire, living in terror, constantly triple checking the doors, windows and alarm system.

The doorbell chimes, and no one is there. The tea kettle shrieks every morning at 3:33 a.m., and the attic door is left unhinged.

Then her cottage is vandalized… Shortly Avery realizes she’s being targeted again.

Copyright © 2016 by Diane Morasco

Social Media Angst and Antipathy

socialmedia
I am not a social media enthusiast. In fact, I think it is a productivity parasite. I know it is possible to schedule your social media time efficiently but for me it is a time leech. I often find myself becoming nauseous whenever I so much as think about having to login to my social media accounts. Which is counterproductive as an entrepreneur who has a sundry of hyphens attached–writer, publisher, agent, designer, and media consultant. When it comes to social media posts for me there is no gray area. I either post or I don’t. And I don’t. I haven’t posted in ages. I actually do become physically ill. I feel as if it is a chore. When I have posted to my sites I found myself making a face, procrastinating and acting out. I was definitely misbehavin’ badly. I also felt as if I was forcing myself to do something I didn’t want to. I realized my heart just wasn’t in it. I did everything to “psyche” myself up to join the media sphere. I have amazing writer friends and mentors who partake but I missed and still miss many posts due to staying off of the social media grid. Recently, I have been pondering ways to ease myself back into the social media fray but still my tummy tumbles and I feel my hackles hiking. Grrr! Since we are midway through the first month of a new year, I know I can’t continue with this social media aversion absurdity. I have to come up with some resourceful tips and entertaining tricks to overcome my apprehension. For now, I have taken the first step by admitting my angst and antipathy for social media.

Copyright © 2016 by Diane Morasco

Stellar Series Spotlight: Caught Dead Handed by Carol J. Perry

Caught Dead Handed Mech.inddGrowing up books were my sanctuary. I would curl up and read with my pets, my cousin’s pets when I was sleeping over or just visiting her house. Christine’s pets ranged from birds to cats to dogs to ducks to turtles! I definitely hold “story time” with Petey, Kim, Yim, Cocoa, Sammie, General, Fifi, Daisy, Donald, and the rest of the menagerie as a precious memory during a turbulent childhood.

I had a bunch of books, comics, and magazines with me at the beach, on the boat, in the car, at the doctor, at picnics, sitting poolside, at school, and visiting my ma’s family. I always had something with me to read.

As a child, reading was my escape, my haven and my stillness from an extremely chaotic upbringing and it is my bliss, my calmness and my refuge as an adult. I have been challenged, encouraged, and solaced by the written word.

With my Spotlight Titles I will share my new favorites and my all-time beloved reads with you. I hope you discover or rediscover a cherished friend.

Cheers to the written word!

Now to kick off the Stellar Series Spotlight is Caught Dead Handed Book 1 in the Witch City Mysteries by Carol J. Perry.

Most folks associate the city of Salem, Massachusetts with witches, but for Lee Barrett, it’s home. This October she’s returned to her hometown-where her beloved Aunt Ibby still lives-to interview for a job as a reporter at WICH-TV. But the only opening is for a call-in psychic to host the late night horror movies. It seems the previous host, Ariel Constellation, never saw her own murder coming.

Lee reluctantly takes the job, but when she starts seeing real events in the obsidian ball she’s using as a prop, she wonders if she might really have psychic abilities. To make things even spookier, it’s starting to look like Ariel may have been an actual practicing witch-especially when O’Ryan, the cat Lee and Aunt Ibby inherited from her, exhibits some strange powers of his own. With Halloween fast approaching, Lee must focus on unmasking a killer-or her career as a psychic may be very short lived. . .

What I’m Reading…

AB TheEx_hc-c1-678x1024Coming January 26, 2016!
Pre-Order Here

In this breakout standalone novel of suspense in the vein of Gone Girl and The Girl on a Train, a woman agrees to help an old boyfriend who has been framed for murder but begins to suspect that she is the one being manipulated.

Twenty years ago she ruined his life. Now she has the chance to save it.

Widower Jack Harris has resisted the dating scene ever since the shooting of his wife Molly by a fifteen-year-old boy three years ago.An early morning run along the Hudson River changes that when he spots a woman in last night’s party dress, barefoot, enjoying a champagne picnic alone, reading his favorite novel. Everything about her reminds him of what he used to have with Molly. Eager to help Jack find love again, his best friend posts a message on a popular website after he mentions the encounter. Days later, that same beautiful stranger responds and invites Jack to meet her in person at the waterfront. That’s when Jack’s world falls apart.

Olivia Randall is one of New York City’s best criminal defense lawyers. When she hears that her former fiance, Jack Harris, has been arrested for a triple homicide and that one of the victims was connected to his wife’s murder there is no doubt in her mind as to his innocence. The only question is who would go to such great lengths to frame him and why?

For Olivia, representing Jack is a way to make up for past regrets, to absolve herself of guilt from a tragic decision, a secret she has held for twenty years. But as the evidence against him mounts, she is forced to confront her doubts. The man she knew could not have done this. But what if she never really knew him?

Interview: Winter Holiday Fireside Moments with Debut Thrill Writer Ruth Ware

RW-Author photoRuth Ware grew up in Lewes, in Sussex. After graduating from Manchester University she moved to Paris, before settling in North London. She has worked as a waitress, a bookseller, a teacher of English as a foreign language and a press officer. She is married with two small children, and In a Dark, Dark Wood is her début thriller.

It’s that time of year when the chill in the frosty air brings us indoors to hunker down with thick comforters and mugs of steaming hot chocolate overflowing with fluffy marshmallows. When holiday music and movies become the soundtrack to our everyday home lives. When we gather ‘round the fire for company, drink, food and love. When we are celebrating and remembering those we treasure and hold near and dear. When the real meaning of the season is family – by our DNA or by our heart. When we reflect and give thanks for all we have. In a nutshell, unconditional love.

I’d like to welcome Debut Suspense Novelist Ruth Ware to share the beauty of the season with us.

Favorite Holiday tradition?

Has to be Christmas carols – I love them! I sing along at every opportunity and embarrass my family.

Favorite childhood toy?

The doll’s house my dad made – it was an exact replica of our house and I loved it. I think my sister still has it in an attic somewhere.

Snow ball fight or making snow families?

I enjoy throwing a few snowballs but I’ve not got very good aim so I try to avoid playing with people who look too accurate.

Sleigh rides, sledding or skiing?

All of the above!

Favorite holiday song?

Assuming we’re ruling out carols, Santa Baby by Eartha Kitt.

Favorite holiday story to read?

Christmas with the Savages.

Snow on holiday eve, day or just a chill in the air?

I would love a white Christmas but it’s never going to happen in my neck of the woods. I do like a nice frost in the air though.

Did you eat popcorn balls as a kid? If you did, do you still?

I don’t even know what they are – I don’t think we have them in the UK! So, er, no and no. Am now intrigued though…

Real tree or artificial? Green or white?

ALWAYS REAL.

What’s the one holiday dish your family can’t go without?

A big plate of smoked salmon garnished with chunks of lemon and brown bread.

RW both-jackets1-1024x732

Favorite holiday decoration?

It’s a 1950s thing I inherited from my grandmother and it’s almost indescribable but I will have a try… it’s like a polystyrene ball about the size of a large grapefruit or small melon, that’s been hollowed out and little snowy woodland scenes placed inside. I have literally no idea what it’s called, let alone what it’s for, but it was a feature of all my Christmases as a small child and I love it. I tried to google for a picture of something similar and the closest I got was this https://www.pinterest.com/pin/116812184055290214/ which I found by googling “1950s polystyrene Christmas snow ball” which was the best I could come up with in search terms. It’s structurally similar but mine doesn’t have the creepy clowns – thankfully.

Wrap, gift bag or bow & go?

I always wrap Christmas presents in brown paper tied up with red string or ribbon – ideally string but you can’t always get it.

Cyber-shop or head out into the trenches?

A bit of both – I do the heavy lifting via the internet but there are some things you just have to go and rummage for.

Do you eat fruitcake?

Yes, but in moderations.

Do you head to the movies on the 25th?

No!? In fact I’m pretty sure all the cinemas here close for Christmas. In any case, there is a punishing schedule of cooking, eating, drinking and present opening so no time for anything apart from a quick walk.

Do you head out on the 26th into the madness to exchange or shop for anything?

No. I do go to the sales but not on Boxing Day – the 26th is a day for family and recovery!

Thank you so much, Ruth. Happy Holidays our home to yours!

Visit Ruth’s website for the latest news.

Follow her on twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ruthwarewriter.

Find her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ruthwarewriter.

Copyright © 2015 by Diane Morasco

Interview first appeared on Blogcritics.

Book Review: See Jane Die by Erica Spindler

ES SJD 1See Jane Die by Erica Spindler (A Stacy Killian Story #1)

Synopsis: Seventeen years ago, Jane Killian was nearly killed by a reckless boater. Now she has everything to live for – a successful career, loving husband, and a baby on the way. But when two women with ties to Jane’s husband are found dead, he becomes the prime suspect….only Jane knows better. The man who nearly took her life is back and he won’t leave until he can finally “See Jane Die”.

My Thoughts: When it comes to suspense that not only leaves your pulse pounding, but robs you of your breath, Spindler is the gal to do it. I have been a “Spindlette” ever since I read Bone Cold in 2001… Wow, I’m having a bit of a tough time digesting that it’s been ten years since picking it up, too. I read EVERYTHING the gifted visionary creates. I often reread my favorites when I am missing my favorite characters and when I need a dose of Spindler.

See Jane Die is a delicious stay up all night thrill ride that is as exhilarating as plunging from the Eiffel tower with a parachute that doesn’t open until 33 seconds before you are expected to hit the asphalt.

Spindler’s See Jane Die is the first in the Stacy Killian series and one of my favorites… Bone Cold and See Jane Die are the ones I return to when I need a sense of comfort – they are my Spindler touchstones.

See Jane Die starts off with a gripping premise that shifts fluently into gear and doesn’t falter once… not even for a split second throughout Spindler’s high octane tale. See Jane Die is finely orchestrated and Spindler brilliantly illustrated the scenes when Jane is run over by a motor boat and is left disfigured by the frightening accident. While Jane undergoes extensive surgery to salvage her face, she is still plagued by nightmares of that catastrophic occurrence.ES SJD

While this storyline can seem a bit generic, Spindler’s writing is anything but and her spin on this often over used plot leaves you absolutely transfixed. You find yourself whipping through the pages at lightning speed all the while holding your breath and as each page is turned a shiver like an ice cube sliding down your back blankets you.

Spindler’s characters are well-fleshed, engaging and not always what they appear to be upon your first introduction – like a trapdoor there is always a surprise. The stalker is heart-stopping, alarming and impressively compelling! The notes he sends to Jane are disturbing, “I did it on purpose. To hear your screams”, but Spindler’s addictive narrative keeps you mesmerized until you find yourself reading straight through.
With the skill of a racecar driver, Spindler delivers a story rich with twists and turns, suspense that manipulates your pulse and a plot that smoothly unfolds to showcase what an inimitable scribe she truly is!

Copyright © 2011 by Diane Morasco. All Rights Reserved.

Book Review: Dead Pan by Gayle Trent

Dead-Pan-248x383Synopsis: For the second time in as many months, Daphne Martin finds herself telling a police officer, “I just delivered the cake.” Several people became sick at Brea Ridge Pharmaceuticals’ annual holiday party for its employees, and one–Fred Duncan–died.

Fred’s mother insists on Daphne’s help in learning why Fred died; and since none of the food has yet been exonerated, Daphne feels compelled to find out what made everyone so ill. She’s pretty sure it wasn’t her cake, but she can’t be certain until the police complete the lab results. Was this an accident? Or did someone set out to kill Fred?

My Thoughts: Trent’s sophomore jaunt in the superfluous culinary cozy genre features remarkable characters, on point storytelling, a charismatic setting, and plenty of suspects to keep you guessing. And, of course, there’s the scrumptious pastries. Dead Pan is a definite winner sure to appeal to readers of all genres.

Check out Gayle’s website for the latest news.

View the original article on blogcritics.org

Copyright © 2015 by Diane Morasco. All Rights Reserved.