Saturday, September 29, 2012

A Visit with Radine Trees Nehring

 Former news reporter and broadcast host, award-winning author Radine Trees Nehring sold her first article when she was 50. She now writes the "To Die  For" series.

Radine, how did your To Die For series come about?

After my non-fiction book, DEAR EARTH: A Love Letter from Spring Hollow, was published, I began looking for a new writing project and thought -- "I enjoy reading mysteries, why not try writing one." So, I did. The title came when my publisher wanted a change in the working title for the first series book. An agent had suggested I link a mystery series together with a single motif in the title, and at that time, everything grand or great in the female world seemed to be "to die for." (Oh, my dear, that diamond was to die for.) The "To Die For" series was born.

Tell us about your latest novel in the series.


A Fair to Die For was such fun to write, though, to be honest, I always say that about my most recent novel! I was familiar with the War Eagle (Craft) Fair in Northwest Arkansas, and had attended it many times, beginning when we lived in Tulsa. The fair has been going strong since 1954, and now draws up to two hundred thousand visitors each year. Craft work certainly suited my series's most popular secondary character, Shirley Booth, so I "saw to it" that she became an approved vendor at the fair, selling her baby quilts and "Cuddlies." Carrie, her best friend, and my female protagonist, would be helping her. Another visit to the fair last year, for observation and interviews, and I was off and running. Carrie's mysterious cousin, Edie, and the possibility of drug dealing at the fair showed up as I was planning the story.

How did your broadcasting career and news reporting careers evolve?

For about ten years, my writing was in the form of essays and feature articles about the Ozarks sold regionally, nationally, and even internationally. I also reported local news for a Northwest Arkansas newspaper, and was eventually asked to research, write, and read the same type of news for an area radio station. At that time I wanted the feeling of a "regular job" so I accepted. That's how "Arkansas Corner Community News" was born. The fifteen-minute twice-weekly program ran for ten years until the station sold. By then my mystery series had taken off, so news broadcasting and I parted company.

Why did you decide to write senior sleuth novels?

I'm not exactly a sleuth, but I am a senior, and felt I understood "Prime Time" adults, as someone has so graciously put it. I also wanted to write about a strong woman, and created Carrie McCrite, a woman who has been sheltered all her life and, after her husband is killed, decides it's time for her to prove her own strength. So, she "jumps into the water," so to speak. She moves from Tulsa, OK, to land in the Ozarks that she and her husband had purchased for a retirement home, and begins life on her own. You know, women who are widowed and facing an entirely new life style often need to find themselves just like teenagers sometimes do. That was Carrie's quest.

You've won quite a few writing awards. Which one means the most to you? Why?


Two awards are equal. The first, in 2010,  is the National Silver Falchion, awarded at Killer Nashville. Winners area chosen by their peers for (I am told) excellence in writing and service to the writing community. I am still awed by this award, and deeply honored. The second is being chosen as the 2011 inductee into the Arkansas Writer's Hall of Fame. This means so much because it is an for an Arkansas author! (And who won this honor the year before? Charlaine Harris!. Others area also "up high" names in my view.) I am awed to see my name on this list.

How do you feel about your celebrity status in your home state? Has it caused you any problems?

My only regret is that my mother didn't live to see this. She is probably somewhere saying" I told you so." For most of my life as an introvert )I even sometimes spent part of my birthday parties reading in my room) she was my big encourager, and went foverba9ord with praise and believing I could do whatever I wanted. I discounted her feelings because, after all, she was my mom. And now . . .

Otherwise, of course it's a great feeling, it would be for anyone. What's especially fun (since my picture has been in newspapers and magazines and elsewhere) is to be sitting in a restaurant and see people looking at me, then turning away if I notice them. I have done this myself so many times--and still do--when I recognize a person! If a certain degree of celebrity has caused any problems, it's increased requests for talks and from writers who are seeking help. I do what I can, but I can't say "yes" to everyone. That makes me sad."
   


What do you enjoy most and least about novel writing?

I really enjoy the writing part. I love being in a story with my characters, and inventing all kinds of things. It's almost like play, though one must, of course, take it more seriously than that. (I think?) I'm used to this kind of creating. Since life circumstances meant I played alone most of the time as a child, I invented imaginary playmates. Guess I am still doing it.

Least would have to be Internet promotion. Living in Spring Hollow means we have absolutely no access to high speed Internet, yet I must communicate and promote in many places--Facebook, my blog, and much more. I spend at least half of my Internet time waiting for connections, and, on some days, can't connect during much of the day. Frustrating, which, of course, means that, though I like connecting with people this way, the end result is frustration and a "least enjoyable" experience.

Advice for novice writers.

MAKE FRIENDS. You never know when a previous contact, or someone you chat with at an event, will be willing to help you with research, publicity, or more. Notice what others write, buy their books, and comment on their work if you enjoy it. If it's not to your taste, don't comment at all. And, of course, perfect your craft, learn the business, go to conferences if you can, join a critique group, write, write, write, and DON'T GIVE UP.

You can learn more aboutr Radine at the following sites:http:RadinesBooks.com http://radine.wordpress.com and http://www.RadinesBooks.com http://radine.wordpress.com

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Julie Garwood Revisted

     Julie Garwood is the author of more than 30 historical and romantic suspense novels, and 36 million copies of her books are in print. Twenty  of them have appeared on the New York Times Bestsellers list. She also writes YA novels as Emily Chase. 
    
   Julie, tell us about The Ideal Man.
  
   It's a story of  a young woman who is facing two threats.  The first one has been with her from her childhood, and the second one comes from an incident that she is thrown into by coincidental circumstance. 
     
    Despite the fear she's faced since she was young, she's managed to become a dedicated surgeon. She's successful and self assured; yet, there's always that vulnerability inside. She's never really allowed herself to let go . . . until the second threat appears. She accidentally becomes a witness to a crime, and the FBI agent on the case not only helps her resolve her fears but also opens her up to emotions she's never felt before.
   
   How did growing up in a large Irish family lend itself to storytelling?
  
  The Irish are by nature great storytellers I think. It seems to come with the genes. They bring out all the nuances of a situation, and I loved sitting around the dinner  table listening to my family talk. Also, growing up in a family of seven children taught me that self-expression had to be quick and forceful.

   Why did you begin your novel writing with YA books and historicals?

   I had young children when I began, so I was drawn to that genre, but I was also interested in historical novels. I had taken a medieval history class in college that I absolutely loved, so I was following that passion as well. My first book, A Girl Named Summer, was published by Scholastic, and shortly after that, Gentle Warrior was published by Pocket Books. The historical novels found a growing audience, and the publishers asked for more of them, so that's that direction my writing has taken.

    While I really enjoy writing the  adult books, I'm hoping to find the time to write a few more for young  readers someday.

    How have your books evolved over the years?

    I haven't changed my themes much. I still write about family and loyalty, and I try to insert some humor into my stories. There's always an element of intrigue or suspense and the romance between the hero and heroine is absolutely key. The setting has changed somewhat. I started with historical novels and I've moved into contemporary settings in the last few years. I enjoy each of them, so my goal is to find the time to write both.

   What's your writing schedule like?

   I like to begin writing early in the morning. It's a routine I started when my children were young. I'd get up early and work on my book before they were awake. I usually have the TV on, though I'm not watching it. It's just background noise. This is a habit that developed when I was a child doing my homework around a table with my siblings. In order to concentrate, I learned to block out the distractions.

    Do you outline your novels and do you aim for a certain amount of words each day?

    I know where the story is headed, but I don't follow a rigid outline. I find that if I let the story evolve, there will always be some surprises along the way that make it more fun. I can't predict how much I'll produce. There are times when the words just flow and I'll write one or two chapters in a day. Then there are times when I can't seem to get a scene right and I may spend two or three days on one page.

    In your opinion, why do some books make the bestseller lists while other equally well-written books fail?

    That's a million dollar question. If I had the answer to that, I'd be a genius. I do believe, though, that there are a great many elements involved. They include some marketing, some talent, and a great deal of luck.

   Advice to fledgling novelists?

   First, stay focused and set aside some time each and every day to work on your writing. It's important that you get into a rhythm and have the discipline to finish your manuscript.

   Second, let your voice be heard in your writing. If your reader can  hear you talking to them in your words, they're more likely to listen to what you have to say.

   Third, develop a network. Writers' organizations and conferences and conferences give you opportunities to meet agents and editor, and that will help you learn more about the publishing business and perhaps give you a leg up in getting published.

    How would you occupy your time if you weren't writing?

    Family would probably take up most of my time. I have a large extended family, so there's always something going on.

   Thank you for an enjoyable visit.

   You can visit Julie Garwood's website at: http://www.juliegarwood.com/
    At Facebook: www.Facebook.com/juliegarwood
    and at Twitter: @JulieGarwood

  

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Cheryl Kaye Tardif Revisited

Cheryl Kaye Tardif's work is called Canadian suspense with a killer twist. The bestselling suspense author from north of the border tackles sensitive and terrifying scenarios that most people wouldn't want to consider. From psychic investigations to serial  killers and assisted suicides, she delves into the human psyche and spotlights our worst fears.

Cheryl, how did your first novel, Whale Song, come about and had you written/published anything prior to it?

Whale Song was in my head for two years before I ever wrote down the title. In fact, I wasn't even sure I was going to write it. At the time, I had pretty much given up hope of getting published; I had tried for years. But the story of Whale Song haunted me. I couldn't shake the characters or the plot. Finally, a friend said, "Cheryl, don't worry whether it gets published.Write it for yourself. Write it because you have to." That was the best advice I've ever been given.

Since Whale Song, which was first published in 2003, I've had six more novels published  (Children of the Fog, Devine Intervention, Devine Justice, The River, Lancelot's Lady and Whale Song: School Edition), as well as Skeletons in the Closet, Other Creepy Stories, and Remote Control, a novelette. All my works are available in ebook editions and all but the novelette are out in trade paperback. I've also had a short story published in What Fears Become: An Anthology From the Horror Zone.

You've written in a number of genres and under a pseudonym. Which genre do you prefer and which has been the most successful?

Suspense is my forte. And any combination of suspense, mystery, paranormal has been  successful for me.

Why do you think all your novels have made the bestseller lists?

In general, readers don't like predictable, formulaic works. They'll never have that with my novels. I strive to be unpredictable and I don't use any kind of formula when writing my books. My stories are a mix of plot-driven and character-driven tales. And I bring emotion into each story, whether it's fear, sorrow, happiness, excitement or another emotion. I want my readers to feel  like they're right there in the story, seeing everything, feeling everything.

How do you promote your work?

I have two main websites and a blog, plus I belong to various social networks. Most of my marketing is done online through various websites and promotions. And my books are promoted via Imajin Books, my publishing company.

Why did you decide to go the indie route with your own publishing company and how long was it before you began publishing the work of other writers?

I began my career as an indie published author, self-publishing three titles from 2003-2005. With their success I was able to secure a New York agent and a traditional publisher. I recognized a lot of serious problems with my publisher early on and ended up removing my books just before they went under. My experience wasn't entirely negative though; I learned a lot from them--especially what NOT to do as a publishing company.

After leaving my publisher, I decided to return to indie publishing and set up my books again under my publishing company, Imajin Books. Over the next year or so I was approached by other authors who asked me if I'd consider publishing them. I said no, but it made me think. I realized there was a need for what I could offer.

So, on January 15, 2011, I opened Imajin Books to accept other authors. We now have a great group on board; some will be publishing their second book with us this spring/summer.

How does your publishing company differ from other small presses?

Imagin Books is an innovative company. We offer a hybrid form of publishing, kind of a cross between indie publishing and traditional. We offer a small advance and much higher than average royalties on ebooks and trade paperback sales. We consider ebooks to be primary rights, with print a subsidiary right. We only secure these rights so authors are free to purse film and other rights.

Our authors have more input into the creation of their books. We go through various editing stages, which they're part of, and they have input into their cover and trailer as well. We treat our authors like partners. Yet they pay nothing up front. We are NOT a subsidiary publisher. We focus on ebooks sales and market accordingly.

How do your print books sales compare with ebooks? And when did your ebooks begin outselling print editions in Canada?

Print sales are a small percentage of what we sell. Our ebooks far outsell our paperbacks. Last time I looked at the numbers we were selling 50 ebooks for every paperback. We have always sold more ebooks than print.

What's your work schedule like?

I work six to seven days a week. My hours vary, but I rarely work less than eight hours a day and often more. I love what I do and I take frequent breaks, so it doesn't really seem like I'm working that long. The great thing is that I can take days off when I need them.

My schedule is divided between answering email, reading submissions, coordinating editors and authors, assigning covers to designers, checking back with everyone, arranging our promotions, updating the website and blog, and anything else that comes up.

Advice for novice writers?

Facebook account BEFORE you query a publisher or agent. A book won't sell without consistent marketing on the part of the author.

Thanks, Cheryl. You can learn more about Cheryl at her websites: http://www.cherylktardif.com and http://www.whalesongbook.com and http://www.imajinbooks.comHer blogs: http://www.cherylktardif.blogspot.comand http://www.imajinbooks.Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/cherylktardif and http://www.twitter.com/imajinbooksFacebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cheryl-Kaye-Tardif-novels/29769736630 and https://www.facebook.com/imajinbooks

Saturday, September 8, 2012

A Visit with Richard L. Mabry, MD



Richard L. Mabry has published four novels of medical suspense: Code Blue--a semifinalist for best first novel from International Thriller Writers;Medical Error--a finalist for book-of-the-year in its genre, by American Christian Fiction Writers; Diagnosis Death--a finalist for RT Book Reviews Readers Choice in its genre; and Lethal Remedy, winner of the Selah award from Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference.

Richard, how would you categorize your novels and what motivated you to write your series?

My tagline is “Medical suspense with heart,” by which I mean that the novels have a medical setting or feature medical personnel, there is an element of danger or uncertainty that threatens the protagonists, and the story line contains a certain amount of romance. Although the books bear the label of the “Prescription For Trouble” series, bound together by some aspect of therapy that causes the conflict, they are freestanding, rather than having the same cast of characters.

Because my background includes thirty-six years in practice, the last ten as a medical school professor, I felt competent to write about doctors and medicine. However, I must confess that I still have to research all the medical aspects of my books carefully, lest I slip up. I’ve learned by experience that there’s always someone among my readers who knows enough to catch my mistakes.

Each of the books began by my asking the question, “What if?” For instance, in the first one I wondered, “What if a doctor fled to her hometown when her life was falling apart, only to find that some of the people there didn’t want her back, and one of them wanted her dead?”

Tell us about your recent release, Lethal Remedy.

Lethal Remedy addresses the question, “What if a wonder drug proves more dangerous than the disease it’s supposed to cure?” On rare occasions, I read in professional journals retractions of published data, and wondered what would happen if someone—a researcher, a pharmaceutical company, some person or entity—falsified research data to emphasize the great potential of a drug while hiding severe side effects, in this case, possibly lethal ones.  And lest my readers throw away all their prescription bottles, I’ll hasten to add that in all my years of performing clinical research and serving as a consultant to various pharmaceutical companies, I have never personally encountered the manipulation of data I describe in Lethal Remedy.

How do you balance the thriller and Christian aspects of your work?

I don’t see these as mutually exclusive goals. Those with deep faith, those who have fallen away from their faith, those with none are all subject to problems. I simply try to weave the make-up of my characters in regard to their relationship with God into the fabric of the story. I don’t have altar calls and conversion scenes in my works, but do try to show how faith is demonstrated by some characters and rejected by others. Situations in which the characters are put in danger—and that’s the backbone of thrillers—are ideal for doing this.

Why did you decide to make your protagonist female?

My first four (unsuccessful) novels featured a male protagonist. As one of my medical school professors told us, “Hey, you can teach a white mouse in three times.” After I found that the vast majority of readers of Christian fiction are female, and most of them identify with female protagonists, I wrote a novel whose lead character was a female doctor. It clicked with a publisher, so I continued the practice with the next three. I have to quickly give credit to my wife, Kay, who is my first reader, for helping me write authentically from a female standpoint. Without her input, I’d be lost.

I am departing from this practice with my next novel, Stress Test, due for release by Thomas Nelson Publishers next spring. In it, a male doctor is kidnapped, escapes at the cost of a head injury that requires emergency surgery, and awakens to find he’s charged with murder. Of course, I’m hedging my bet, with a female co-protagonist, a fiery redheaded attorney who has just declared herself through with doctors forever when she gets the call to defend him.

You’ve received some great reviews. Which means the most to you?

I suppose I’m most pleased by the 4 ½ stars given my novels by RT Book Reviews, mainly because these are objective ratings by seasoned reviewers. I’ve also been fortunate enough to have rather glowing endorsements from some well-known authors, and this means a lot to me as well. However, probably the ones that count the most are the reviews that come from readers, because they are my true audience.

How do you react to undeserved one-star reviews?

I was fortunate enough to avoid one-star reviews for a while, but, as happens with every author, they eventually popped up. Most of these have been from people who took advantage of free e-book downloads of one of my books made available by my publishers, and their complaint was almost universally that there was a Christian element to my writing. I took those for what they represented—people who had no idea what the book was about, but were happy to get it free.

That having been said, if I see one or two low ratings that mention something in my writing that wasn’t up to par, I make a special effort to address that area in subsequent novels. No writer is perfect, and I think we all strive to get better with each book. If I defend myself against criticism instead of listening to it, I’m never going to improve.

And are you retired or still practicing medicine?

I retired from active practice almost ten years ago, but still maintain my license and work to keep up with the field. My practice was in the field of ear, nose, and throat and related allergic disorders, but my training before that was in both medicine and surgery, so I have an understanding of the broad field of medicine. Some of the scenarios I describe are loosely based on experiences of mine or my colleagues, some are products of my imagination as I wonder “what if?” but all are feasible.

Advice to fledgling authors.

Learn, write, revise, learn, write, revise, lather, rinse, repeat. I’ve read various statements that it takes a writer three books to “get it,” that writers have to put so many thousand words on paper to learn the craft, and I tend to agree. Beyond learning the basics of the craft, practice, based on valid critiques, remains the best way to improve. In my own case, it took me four years, writing four unsuccessful novels that garnered forty rejections before I got my first contract. During that time, I read books on writing, attended conferences and classes, but the most important thing I did was write, have my work critiqued by someone knowledgeable in the area, revise, write some more, and on and on.

The ease of publishing e-books has tempted many unpublished writers to rush their work into publication this way. I would encourage them to resist the temptation. Make sure the work is the best you can do. And if you choose to self-publish, get a professional to edit the work and another to do a book cover. If it’s going to carry your name, do it right.

You can visit Dr. Mably at his blogspot:  http://rmabry.blogspot.com, his Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/rmabrybooks  and his Twitter account: http://twitter.com/richardmabry