Tag Archive | interesting

Jan McCanless~Beryl’s Cove Mysteries

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Jan McCanless is a retired school teacher and noted premier Southern Humorist. Her homespun articles appear in six national magazines, and her regular newspaper columns. Her delightful Beryl’s Cove mystery series is a cross between Mayberry RFD and Murder She Wrote, and she has two compilations of her humor articles out as well. Once you’ve read one of her books, you are hooked and become a Jan McCanless fan for life! 

Welcome Jan. We are thrilled to have you visit us today.

Tell us something you would like your readers to know about you they don’t.

I am an absolute fanatic about crossword puzzles, and am usually seen working on one anytime I am not writing.  Spouse claims I am the world’s best cook, and  I am an ordained Lay Minister of the Lutheran Church – a fact I am very proud of.

Wow, I did not know that.

I understand you traveled to a most unusual place. Where was this and did it wind up in one of your books?

Quite honestly, the most unusual place was a wax museum in New Orleans. It was dedicated to the macabre, and had some really unusual things in it. Scenes from Dracula, that sort of thing.  No, it never made it into one of my books.

Most of my columns are autobiographical in nature, so things of this nature find themselves in my stories.  Interesting thing about this adventure was the sign on each exhibit, telling the visitor to keep their hands down, so as not to sound an alarm. Naturally, I had to point and gesture, setting off every alarm in the whole place, at each exhibit. Spouse says I embarrassed him tremendously, but, isn’t that what I’m supposed to do with my columns?

In a previous life, what did you do before becoming a writer?

Most all my readers know I was a school teacher, but, a lot of them are surprised to learn I was once a registered Medical Technologist.  I was an assistant to a pathologist, and we of course, did forensic work, autopsies, tissue examination, that sort of thing. I’ve always been fascinated by forensics, probably why I write murder mysteries. I loved the work.  Retirement brought me to the job of volunteer tour guide for our local senior center, a very rewarding job, and I absolutely loved it.jan

If you’ve retired, how difficult was it to give it up?

My first day of not teaching was hard, I got up early, got dressed and was going out the door to school, when it occurred to me I was no longer employed there. I’d still be teaching if not for arthritis, which made it extremely difficult to walk the concrete floors and carry AV equipment, etc .  To this day, I miss my students, many of whom have remained friends over the years, and I miss the mental stimulation.  Realistically, I knew I could not give it my all, so, yes, I miss it.

Does coincidence sometimes play a role in your books? If so, is there a particular example you can share. 

Not as much as one would think,  since my books are pure fiction. My two compilations of columns  did have a coincidence. I had just submitted a column about my time up in Fish Creek , Wisconsin, visiting my brother. Spouse and I were taking a day trip up to the mountains, when I ran into a gentleman who was visiting North Carolina from Fish Creek, Wisconsin. My column ran that very week, so, I was quite surprised at the coincidence, and the gentleman and I had a nice, long chat. He loved visiting here he said, and I loved visiting there.  What I find so amusing is, someone at a book signing will invariably tell me they have been to Beryls Cove, NC, an entirely fictional place, yet, they will insist they have been there and loved it. Fans, you gotta love em !  back_to_b_cove

What is your favorite Hobby? Does it by chance have any influence on your writing?

Without question, its reading. I love to read, and  between May and July of this year, I read 14 books. I read constantly, when I’m not writing, and could not live without my books. I have a personal library in my home with over 300 volumes of books I want to keep and maybe read again some day. Other books go to consignment, there simply is not room enough for them.

Does reading influence my writing? Absolutely, I love to study characters and interesting, exciting plots will really hold my interest. I try to learn from other successful authors too, and have garnered many ideas from them over the years. You have to tell yourself  that they are successful  for a reason.  I try to take something away from all of them, and writing well is a constant learning process.

Do you have to do much research in your writing?

Writing a good story takes research, no matter what the subject. Even fiction has to be accurate if you are quoting facts, so, I actually enjoy research. I have a research assistant  when needed, and have found out many things about Las Vegas, for instance, and the book I’m writing now takes place in England. So, I am thoroughly enjoying researching places near my fictional town. Over the years, I have made a few mistakes in my facts, so, I quickly learned that to be accurate, I must research. It’s time-consuming, but, worth the effort. For the book I am doing now, I did about 3 months worth of research before I wrote the first word.

What are yo working on now?

It’s the third book in my Brother Jerome series, which is an offshoot of the Beryls Cove mysteries. I made the HUGE mistake of saying in my last book, there would be no more, and fans and publisher alike jumped all over me, wanting more, more, more. So, This book is entitled The Opera House Murders, and is about this lovely old home that is now a residence for elderly, retired entertainers in the small English village of Colliers Dog.  I have lovely, elderly British people, retired from show business, but, still entertaining themselves, and wonderful  English customs and sayings to employ.  My maternal grandmother was born in England,and I used to adore her way of speaking, and am absolutely fascinated by British mysteries, so, thought I would write one myself. I am really enjoying it,and having great fun with my characters,and especially Brother Jerome, a true misfit if there ever was one.  Hopefully, it will be out next winter.

Tell us how your newest book came about, the story behind it.

Well, as I said, I love the English mysteries, but, to tell you the truth, in my last book,  Gold, Frankincense and Mrrrdur , I had an English  character, and he was very popular with my readers. I loved the way his part in the plot was revealed, and enjoyed writing about him, so, I thought, why not?murder jan

What is the easiest for you? Writing dialogue, creating characters, plot or scenes?

For me, the easiest is the plot, it’s usually fomenting in my brain for quite some time before I sit down to write. In fact, it  generally keeps me awake at night,and when I can’t stand it any longer, I sit down and write.  Plots , for me, are easy, they just simply pop into my head.  Hardest is writing dialogue. For one thing, I was an English teacher, and proper grammar is important to me, but, most people don’t speak a formal English with a lot of correct grammar. I have to remember that when I write. A construction worker, for instance, is not going to tell you he is headed to the restaurant and going to buy a cup of coffee. No, he will say he’s goin to the diner to get a cuppa coffee, or joe.  Most folks are turned off by overly formal language and all the proper grammar a writer can throw at them, they are intimidated, so, I try always to write as the average person speaks.  In my early books, I have octogenarian twins, one repeated everything the other one said. Oh man, that was hard, because I was writing everything twice. It made their characterizations quite endearing though, but, it was a long, slow process.

What advice would you give to other writers?

I would tell them three things.  Stay the course, don’t be put off by rejection or two, we all get them or have gotten them.  If you believe in your work, then, eventually, someone else will, and you’ll be on your way. I self published my first book, because all the rejects I got told me there was not enough sex, violence or profanity in it. I don’t write books like that, and I believed in my work. One publisher told me I’d never get anywhere with it, but, I published it anyway, and it was out one week, and went best seller. the rest, as they say, is history. Now, my publisher asks me when he can receive the next book.

Network as much as you can with other authors.  Writing is a learning experience, and talk to other authors as much as you can, and you will find out a lot of good information.  Southern Writers Magazine is a marvelous resource for this, and eventually, you’ll hit upon your own voice and style of writing.  I work at least 2 book festivals a year, in other parts of the country, and I learn from every one of them. I see many author friends, and we get together and brain storm. you’d be surprised the good ideas you can pick up from another writer.  We swap books often,and you can really learn from all this.

Write what you know. If you are into romance, don’t try to write science fiction. Write what you know, and familiarize yourself with your audience. I had the advantage of writing newspaper columns for the middle ager, that’s what I know, so, my characters are almost all middle-aged or older, with few exceptions,  because I know and understand how the middle years affect people.  I could not nor would not attempt to write a book about teenagers, too far removed from them ,despite having 6 teenaged grandchildren, I am not with them 24/7 to see all their activities, or understand their language and music today.  My favorite genre of book is murder mysteries, Agatha Christie being my fave author, so, that is what I write. Murder mysteries, always with a twist, and always family friendly stories.

Tell me a fun fact about you.

I am an incorrigible practical joker, and I could not live without humor. I tried being serious once, it didn’t work for me.   Humor is  a big part of my public speaking, and I am a very frustrated pop singer.  Don’t tell anyone though.

It has been an honor having Jan McCanless with us today. Check out her sites and get her books if you want great reads.

 

janmacbooks.com

http://authors.southernwritersmagazine.com/jan-mccanless.html

 

 

 

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Heather Blanton–Lady in Defiance

Heather Blanton ph    Heather Blanton––Lady in Defiance

Heather said, “I believe Christian fiction should be messy and gritty, because the human condition is … and God loves us anyway.” –

A former journalist, and avid researcher you skillfully weave truth in among fictional story lines. I understand you love to explore the American West.

Yes, especially ghost towns and museums. I’ve walked parts of the Oregon Trail, ridden horses through the Rockies, climbed to the top of Independence Rock, and even held an outlaw’s note in my hand.

No wonder your books bring our western culture to life.

You write Christian Westerns. Besides your love of the west is there another reason?

I get to write about strong pioneer women and men who struggle to find God and then live out their faith in real ways. Romance is always a strong element in my stories because it is such a beautiful gift from God, and a perfect reflection of how he loves His children: sacrificially and lavishly.

You have been able to write Christian Westerns without being preachy or cheesy.

Like good old-fashioned Westerns, there is always justice, a moral message, American values, and lots of high adventure, unexpected plot twists, and more than a touch of suspense. I think readers find my stories heart-warming, realistic, illuminating and glorifying to God.

Where do you think this love for the west stems from?

I think it’s because I grew up on a steady diet of Bonanza, Gunsmoke, and John Wayne movies. My fondest childhood memory is of sitting next to my father, munching on popcorn, and watching Lucas McCain unload that Winchester!

I can relate to your love for the old west. I loved the western movies growing up. Every Saturday afternoon was movies and then home to recreate those Roy Rogers and Gene Autry movies. We loved that era.

You are the bestselling independent author of several Christian Westerns, including the Romance in the Rockies series.

This  series, Intrigued by the concept of three good sisters stranded in a lawless Colorado mining town, caused a few notable Hollywood producers to request the script for my first book in that series.

trio of heather    book1    book 2

You’ve been called “A Lady in Defiance” and your writing is gritty and realistic. In fact, your books have been compared to AMC’s Hell on Wheels series, as well as the legendary Francine Rivers book, Redeeming Love. You just released Romance in the Rockies Books 1, 2, & 3 Plus The Lost Chapters.

Readers now can get all three of the bestselling Defiance books in ONE collection, along with a BONUS, never-before-published prequel novella, The Lost Chapters.

Heather, we wish you continuing success in your writing. We enjoy reading your work so we can’t wait to read this one.

Thank you for visiting with us today.

 

To learn more about Heather visit her website: https://ladiesindefiance.com/ and get her newsletter.

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Renee Rosen–Weaves Historical Novels With A Twist

ReneeRosen0997b   I am excited to have you here today Renee. You’ve authored What the Lady Wants and Dollface along with a YA novel, Every Crooked Pot. Now, your latest is White Collar due out November of this year.

What were your thoughts after publishing Dollface and What the Lady Wants?

white-collar-girl_brown_Page_1-copyThese were two historical novels set in Chicago and I wondered if I’d run out of material for a third book set in the Windy City. I fretted over it for sometime before I realized there was a fascinating story right under my nose. The Chicago Tribune during the 1950s was the perfect backdrop for a novel filled with real-life scandals, intrigue and the role of women rising up in the workplace. We pitched White Collar Girl as Mad Men meets House of Cards and with my publisher’s support I was off and writing about a young ambitious reporter struggling to make a name for herself in the man dominated newspaper world. Incidentally, the title, White Collar Girl came from an actual Tribune column by the same name that appeared in the 1940s and 1950s. It was geared toward career women whom in those days were mostly secretaries, nurses and schoolteachers.

Wow. That alone would make me want to read the book. Plus I loved the clothes they wore in the 1040’s and 1050’s.  Women and Men both  dressed.

Did you ever work for a newspaper or even go in one?

I’ve never stepped foot inside a newspaper before. I knew next to nothing about journalism. I had my work cut out for me. I met with numerous reporters and learned about some of the biggest, juiciest scandals that rocked Chicago and the nation back in the 1950s. I always knew Chicago had a reputation for political corruption and voter fraud, but I had no idea just how outlandish Daley’s political machine really was. I think readers will be surprised by the author’s note I’ve included in the back of the book, which specifies all the factual scandals that appear in the novel.

With that research as my foundation, the story took over and I became merely a vehicle. Right away I sensed that there was something different in the writing, in the development of the characters and in the arc of the story. I had no idea where the book was going, but my characters sure did and I stepped aside and let them lead me in a way that I’d never experienced before. As a writer, I felt that I truly grew in my craft with this book and I truly hope that people will enjoy reading White Collar Girl as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Sounds like there will be many people wanting to read the book. It sounds intriguing.

I was looking over your website, http://reneerosen.com/about-renee/ and read about in your former life as an advertising copywriter. You said you always had a novel in your desk drawer.

Yes, I did, and when the opportunity presented itself, I jumped from writing ad copy to writing fiction. You see, I love history, all things old, all things written and I love Chicago.

cover-what-the-lady-wants-430x647Tell me about your book What the Lady Wants.

In late 19th century Chicago, Marshal Field, who was a visionary retail tycoon made his fortune wooing women customers with his famous motto: “Give the lady what she wants.”  He began an affair with Delia Spencer. After the Great Fire Marshall Field led the way in rebuilding. He transformed his dry goods store into a glamorous palace of a department store. Behind the opulence, their private lives are riddled with scandal and heartbreak. Delia and Marshall first turn to each other out of loneliness, but as their love deepens, they will stand together despite disgrace and ostracism, through an age of devastation and opportunity, when an adolescent Chicago is transformed into the gleaming White City of the Chicago’s World’s Fair of 1893.

dollfacesThe Gilded Age always captured my imagination and interest and the fact that the book is an historical novel will make it that much more interesting to readers. So if people haven’t read this one, I suggest they get it. It is wonderful.

Your book DollFace is also a great read.

Thank you. I set this in the 1920’s when America was alive with jazz, speakeasies and a new kind of woman—the flapper.

Vera Abramowitz is determined to leave her gritty childhood and live an exciting life.  Bobbing her hair and showing her knees, the lipsticked beauty dazzles, doing the Charleston in nightclubs and earning the nickname “Dollface.”

She’s the ultimate flapper and captures the attention of two high rollers, a nightclub owner and a sexy gambler. On their arms, she gains entree into a world filled with bootlegged bourbon, wailing jazz and money to burn. She thinks her biggest problem is choosing between them, until the truth comes out. Her two lovers are really mobsters from rival gangs during Chicago’s infamous Beer Wars, a battle Al Capone refuses to lose.

The life she’s living is an illusion resting on a bedrock of crime and violence unlike anything the country has ever seen before. When the good times end, Vera becomes entangled in everything from bootlegging to murder. And as men from both gangs fall around her, she must put together the pieces of her shattered life, as Chicago hurtles towards one of the most infamous days in its history, the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.

You have a knack in being able to weave the story in with history.

01 Cover - Sept 2015 (1)In September, Southern Writers Magazine showcased your new book. I know readers will be looking forward to November to get your book.

I want to thank you for dropping by and telling us about your books.

Be sure and visit Renee http://reneerosen.com/book/white-collar-girl/

https://www.facebook.com/ReneeRosenAuthor