Tag Archive | mystery

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.








Once A Judge–Goldstein-Now Author

authorphoto_debrahgoldstein  Debra H. Goldstein is the author of Should Have Played Poker (A Carrie Martin and the Mah Jongg Players Mystery) that just released in April and the book, Maze in Blue.

Are you still a sitting judge?

No. Although I remained a sitting federal Admaze-in-blueministrative Law Judge after my first book, Maze in Blue, was published. I decided to step down from the bench and pursue my passion – writing.


Do you
draw from the cases you have presided over? 

At this point in my writing, I haven’t felt comfortable drawing from the cases I presided over, but I occasionally use bits and pieces from my past experiences for scenes or steal characteristics from people I have met during my legal career.

For example, in my first published story, Legal Magic, two lawyers think a courtroom is empty.  Suddenly, they hear the voice of the judge who is to hear the case fill the courtroom like God speaking on the mountain. Looking around, they realize the judge is lying down behind rather than sitting at his bench. This exact scenario happened to me when, as a litigator, I appeared in front of a judge who injured his back, but wanted to continue hearing his docketed cases until the date of his scheduled surgery.  Because he couldn’t sit, he placed a cot behind the bench and held court lying down.  Eerie as the actual experience was, it was a perfect scene to incorporate into a story.

I think that is probably the most unusual thing I’ve heard a judge do, and I agree, it is eerie but funny. Might make a good trilogy!

What has been the biggest surprise to you in writing a novel?

The biggest surprise is actually hearing the characters’ voices – especially if I start veering from where they think the story should go.

Has developing plots and scenes been easier for you because of your experience?

For me, plots and scenes grow out of my imagination spurred from chance encounters, overhearing a conversation, reading a news headline or almost anything enhanced by my various life experiences. My legal experience is especially helpful in fleshing out twists that involve courtrooms or issues of law.  It makes it possible for me to avoid common fictional legal mistakes and to know odd things that might move a story along.

My writing reflects the totality of my life experiences rather than simply my legal career. This becomes clear if one analyzes the character of the protagonist, Carrie Martin.  She is a young corporate attorney whose father moved into the Sunshine Village Retirement Home because he has mild dementia. Although what happens to Carrie on the job never happened to me during my first legal job with a major corporation, I pulled upon that experience as the starting point to write about Carrie’s responsibilities, challenges and interaction with co-workers. In the same way, I used my mother-in-law’s reaction to the initial stages of Alzeheimers, research I did when a family member was considering moving into an assisted living facility and memories of my mother’s long term Mah Jongg game to make the story realistic.

poker  Your newest book, Should Have Played Poker, tell us where the idea came from.

Writers are always told to write what they know.  In my case, I started thinking of my relationship with my mother.  Unfortunately, it makes for a boring story to say my mother desperately wanted a daughter, loved me unconditionally, and encouraged me in everything I did.  Consequently, I decided to write the opposite of what I knew – a story about a woman whose mother abandoned her when she was a child and how that impacted her as she grew into adulthood. This concept opened up doors to the characters who helped raise her, her internal and external emotional ability or inability to relate to others, and her reaction to how her father’s dementia will eventually change their relationship.  The problem at this point was that Carrie’s life story was pretty heavy.  I needed a counterbalance for the story to be enjoyable for the reader.  As I thought about it, I remember the retirement home Mah Jongg players I used in my first published story, Legal Magic, and realized they would be the perfect comic foil for Carrie.  Once they came into the picture, the story flowed.

Tell us about your main characters in that book and how you chose them.

The main character in Should Have Played Poker is Carrie Martin, a twenty-nine-year-old corporate attorney who is precariously balancing her job and visiting her father in the Sunshine Village Retirement Home. After having abandoned her family twenty-six years earlier, her mother returns and leaves her with a sealed envelope and the knowledge she once considered killing Carrie’s father.  Before Carrie can discover what is in the envelope or why her mother returned, her mother is murdered at the retirement home where Carrie’s father lives.  When the detective assigned to her mother’s case, Carrie’s former live-in lover, doesn’t seem to be doing much, Carrie feels compelled to intervene in the investigation.  Needing help, she enlists the Sunshine Village Mah Jongg players to help her sleuth.  I chose to use the Mah Jongg players because each has a separate personality but together they come together as a family – something that is important to Carrie.

What is the one thing you enjoy most about writing?

The most fun of writing is creating a story that entertains readers, but while I enjoy the process of seeing a story unfold from my imagination, I also am having a blast interacting with readers and other authors.

What authors do you like to read?

Of all the questions you’ve asked me, this is the most difficult one to answer.  I love to read and read everything I can get my hands on, but that means I have no one favorite author. Recent authors whose books I have enjoyed include Kristen Hannah, Linda Rodriguez, Hank Phillippi Ryan, T.K. Thorne, Janet Evanovich, and Jane Mayer.

What’s next for Debra H. Goldstein?

For the next few months, I will be traveling and speaking to book clubs, libraries and other groups about Should Have Played Poker. I am in the process of revising a new book, One Taste Too Many, that I hope will find a home in 2017, and I recently signed a contract for a new short story to appear in Alfred Hitchcock Murder Magazine.

01-sw-cover-july-2016-rev There is an excellent interview article about you in Southern Writers Magazine’s July/August issue. An interesting excerpt to me was…“T wo days after graduating early from the University of Michigan, Debra H. Goldstein went to the Big
Apple with two goals: obtain a job in publishing and get on Jeopardy. “In case things didn’t work out while I pursued these goals, I spent each evening during the first
few weeks typing applications to enter law school in the fall”. If you would like to read the interview visit  http://www.southernwritersmagazine.com/subscribe.html and order the July/August 2016 edition. Or email annabelle@southernwritersmag.com and order it.

I read your book, Should Have Played Poker and enjoyed it very much as did my husband. Looking forward to your next book.

Thank you for visiting. 

Be sure and visit Debra Goldstein at http://www.debrahgoldstein.com/ she will be delighted to hear from you. If you want a good read, order her books.




Terry Shames 3 photo by Margaretta K. Mitchell Terry Shames is the author of the award-winning best-selling Samuel Craddock series, set in the fictitious town of Jarrett Creek, Texas. MysteryPeople named Terry Shames one of the top Five Texas Mystery authors of 2015!

Welcome Terry, I am excited you are here and anxious to hear about this series. 

What brought about the writing of this particular series?

 I had been struggling to find a publishing niche for several years. I took time off when my son was in middle school and high school and when I went back to writing, I took a weekend workshop that changed my writing life. In it, one of the workshop leaders spoke passionately about the need to find your own voice. I had heard this advice before (“Find an empty space on the bookstore shelves and fill it,” and “Write the book that only you can write.”). Maybe I was ready to hear the advice, but a month later I sat down and thought about the book only I could write. I had written a few short stories set in the fictitious town of Jarrett Creek, which was based on the town where my grandparents lived when I was growing up, and I thought it would be a natural setting for me. And when I thought of a main character, there was really no question. I was very close to my grandfather. He was no angel, but he had a strong sense of fairness and responsibility. I thought those qualities would be excellent in a protagonist who solved crimes. The first book in the series poured out of me as if it had been waiting to be told.

I love the rural life you create your story in and the Texas setting. It’s that small settlement feeling, where everyone knows everyone. And the characters you create just come to life.

killing-at-cotton-hill-175  This book, A Killing at Cotton Hill, was a finalist for numerous awards and won the Macavity for Best First Mystery, 2013.

For those who don’t know The Macavity Award’s name is the “mystery cat” of T.S. Eliot (Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats). Each year the members of Mystery Readers International nominate and vote for their favorite mysteries in four categories.

Is there a purpose behind the story that you want your readers to know?

I have heard it said writers have one main story to tell, or one main idea to explore. I am always interested in the way secrets affect people. The person keeping the secret isn’t able to fully be part of a family and community. I’m not talking about small secrets (when you stole a lipstick from the drugstore when you were nine), I’m talking about the big ones. Big secrets ripple all the way through the community. Sometimes an entire community has made the decision to ignore an open secret. When I was growing up, there was a woman in our community who was a kleptomaniac. Everyone knew it and was complicit in allowing her husband to quietly return purloined items.

nonie-blake-175    Families sometimes simply don’t talk about the family member who is a little “off.” In my latest book, The Necessary Murder of Nonie Blake, the family has chosen to hide a family member who did something terrible by sending her to a mental facility. But as the book reveals, there’s more to it. Liars keep secrets in order to save face. And sometimes they even kill to make sure the secret doesn’t overwhelm them.

What was the most challenging part in writing this story?

For some reason The Necessary Murder of Nonie Blake didn’t present the challenge I talked about in the prior answer. It seemed to unfold easily. But in that book most of the challenge was in researching how mental illness would have been described and handled twenty years ago.

dead-broke-175  Every book seems to present a challenge at some point. Usually for me it’s the plot resolution. I know how I want it to end, but I don’t know exactly how to get there. My third book, Dead Broke in Jarrett Creek, lead me astray until I had a complete mess. Finally I went back to the middle and realized where I had gone wrong. Sometimes it’s when you try to force your characters into roles they don’t want to inhabit, but sometimes it’s not exerting enough control over your story. It’s a delicate balance. 

death of jacklast-death-175 The Last Death of Jack Harbin was a Macavity finalist for Best Mystery, 2014 and named one of the top ten mysteries of 2014 by Library Journal and top five of 2014 by MysteryPeople.

Tell us about this book.

 Right before the outbreak of the Gulf War, two eighteen-year-old football stars and best friends from Jarrett Creek, Texas, signed up for the army. But Woody Patterson was rejected and stayed home to marry the girl they both loved, while Jack Harbin came back from the war badly damaged. The men haven’t spoken since.

Just as they are about to reconcile, Jack is brutally murdered. With the chief of police out of commission, it’s up to trusted ex-chief Samuel Craddock to investigate. Against the backdrop of small-town loyalties and betrayals, Craddock discovers dark secrets of the past and present to solve the mystery of Jack’s death.

Deadly Affair at Bobtail Ridge When I finished my fourth book, A Deadly Affair at Bobtail Ridge, which came out last May, the end didn’t satisfy me. It was empty and didn’t give me the resolution I wanted. My editor told me to keep thinking about it. Finally I appealed to my agent, and she told me that one scene didn’t quite work for her. I immediately realized that what was in my head hadn’t fully made it onto the page. Fixing it required a whole new scene and a big expansion of another scene. When I was done, I knew it was right.

 I read A Deadly Affair at Bobtail Ridge. Could not put it down. Loved the twist you created in the story. In fact, I liked it so well, my husband decided he wanted to read it. He too could enjoyed reading this book and liked your story style.

Did the writing require a lot of research and if so what kind?

All the books require some kind of research. I do “backwards” research, which I fear one day will get me in trouble. I usually write my books the way I “think” things would go. If I have a question about the way law enforcement works, how an autopsy would be handled, or the type of gun someone would carry, for example, I write it the way I think it would be and put big stars around it. When the first draft is done, I go back to find the stars and research how it would really happen—to make sure I haven’t made any glaring mistakes. In a couple of books, I’ve had to go back several years to find out how things would have been done.

In book three, I relied on an official website for information about law enforcement. After the book was edited, I had the good fortune to attend a talk at Heart of Texas Sisters in Crime, given by a veteran detective. I asked him about the protocol. He laughed and told me that officially it was supposed to work that way, but in reality it was handled much differently. I instantly phoned my editor. Fortunately, it wasn’t too late to make the few lines of changes. Here’s the thing: it wouldn’t have really mattered if the book had been published with the error. I doubt that anyone would have quibbled. But I knew that it was wrong, and I wanted it to be right.

Thank you Terry for visiting with us today. We have enjoyed learning more about your writing and books. I recommend them for other readers, knowing they will enjoy your stories and writing style.

Be sure a visit Terry Shames at:






Susan Elia MacNeal-The Maggie Hope Mystery Series

susan mcneildownloadWelcome, New York Times-bestselling author Susan Elia MacNeal. The author of the Maggie Hope Mystery series. She is the winner of the Barry Award, and her books have been nominated for the Edgar, Macavity, and Dilys Awards.

Thank you for visiting with us today.

Thank you for having me.

roosevelt         Your newest book in your series is MRS. ROOSEVELT’S CONFIDANTE, which released October 2015. Tell us a little about it.

England’s most daring spy, Maggie Hope, travels across the pond to America, where a looming scandal poses a grave threat to the White House and the Allied cause. December 1941, soon after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Winston Churchill arrives in Washington, D.C., along with special agent Maggie Hope. Posing as his typist, she is accompanying the prime minister as he meets with President Roosevelt to negotiate the United States’ entry into World War II. When one of the First Lady’s aides is mysteriously murdered, Maggie is quickly drawn into Mrs. Roosevelt’s inner circle—as ER herself is implicated in the crime. Maggie knows she must keep the investigation quiet, so she employs her unparalleled skills at code breaking and espionage to figure out who would target Mrs. Roosevelt, and why. What Maggie uncovers is a shocking conspiracy that could jeopardize American support for the war and leave the fate of the world hanging dangerously in the balance.

Sounds most intriguing. No wonder everyone wants to read it. You received accolades from “O:The Oprah Magazine, where they said, “You’ll be Maggie Hope’s loyal subject, ready to follow her wherever she goes.” Congratulations on that praise. Every author would love to receive praise from that magazine. The Minneapolis Star Tribune also praised your book, as did Booklist who said, “A treat for WWII buffs and mystery lovers alike. And it is that Susan.

Thank you.

The Maggie Hope novels have been nominated for the ITW Thriller Award, the Sue Federer Historical Fiction Award, and the Bruce Alexander Historical Fiction Award. 

This is wonderful to have all this exposure for your books and accolades.

You’ve blended meticulous research on the era and psychological insight into Winston Churchill, and the creation of a riveting main character, Maggie Hope, into a spectacularly crafted novel. They are simply wonderful reading.

mr churchill's secretaryYour debut novel in this series was Mr. Churchill’s Secretary. Tell me about it.

The series I think captures the drama of an era of unprecedented challenge—and the greatness that rose to meet it. In this book, set in London, 1940 Winston Churchill has just been sworn in, war rages across the Channel, and the threat of a Blitz looms larger by the day. But none of this deters Maggie Hope. Graduating at the top of her college class, she possesses all the skills of the finest minds in British intelligence, but her gender qualifies her only to be the newest typist at No. 10 Downing Street. Her indefatigable spirit and remarkable gifts for codebreaking, though, rival those of even the highest men in government, and Maggie finds that working for the prime minister affords her a level of clearance she could never have imagined—and opportunities she will not let pass. In troubled, deadly times, with air-raid sirens sending multitudes underground, access to the War Rooms also exposes Maggie to the machinations of a menacing faction determined to do whatever it takes to change the course of history.

Ensnared in a web of spies, murder, and intrigue, Maggie must work quickly to balance her duty to King and Country with her chances for survival. And when she unravels a mystery that points toward her own family’s hidden secrets, she’ll discover that her quick wits are all that stand between an assassin’s murderous plan and Churchill himself.

You have done a superb job on this series. I want to thank you for visiting us today. Please let us know when your next book releases. Don’ want to miss it.

Visit Susan at www.susaneliamacneal.com. Let her know how much you are enjoying her series.




Joy Ross Davis- Magical and Irish

Joy_Ross_Davis-200x300    Joy Ross Davis is of Irish descent and a student of the lore and magic found in the hills of Tennessee. After a twenty-five year career as a college English professor, she traveled to Ireland and worked as a writer and photographer, publishing numerous travel articles and photos for an Irish travel agency. She has been a contributing feature writer for a local newspaper and has published articles in Southern literary magazines.

Welcome to Authors Visits Joy, we are delighted to have you.

 I know you speak at conferences, book club meetings, and events sharing your connection with angels and the stories behind your books. 

Yes, and so enjoy it.

countenance513oE5ZVj8L._AA160_I would love to talk with you about your book Countenance. This was your debut novel. You created a suspenseful yet heartfelt story full of intrigue and unexpected revelations, where magic is made in the kitchen and angels can fall in love.

In it your memorable characters inhabit a home that is more than it seems, unwittingly preparing for a final showdown where forces battle for the souls of both those who reside there and the dead who cannot move on to the next realm.

The character Nealey Monaghan, who is thirty-eight, life is turned upside-down one night when her sister’s estranged ex-husband kills nearly everyone she loves in one fell swoop. Numb to the world, Nealey is taken in by her charmingly eccentric Aunt Sylvie, cookbook author and proprietress of the Playhouse Inn Bed and Breakfast in the hills of Tennessee. Hoping to help her niece find purpose and meaning in her life again, Sylvie makes Nealey a co-owner and begins teaching her the tricks of the trade…and the secrets of the house.
Unbeknownst to either of them, nor to the ghost relatives who have lived there since they were murdered in 1889, there is a common thread running through their veins, and a deep secret that is dying to come out…

What a wonderfully woven story. No wonder the book has done so well.

I read what the Red City Review said about your book. “Countenance is such a comforting and heart-warming tale, and readers will fall in love with the novel’s leading ladies, Nealey and Sylvie, who really are strong and extraordinary women. The love between them is so palpable it all but brings this story to life.  Plenty of other surprising characters populate this novel’s pages as well, some of them being more – or less – than they seem. While ‘Countenance’ is a relatively brief read, it contains a heavy helping of life lessons that will surely leave readers feeling emotionally sated.”  This was an excellent review.

I was thrilled with their review. Another review, also thrilled me, it was given by Kathleen M Rodgers, author of the Amazon bestselling novel, The Final Salute and Johnnie Come Lately.

She said, “For two days I’ve been living with the charming cast of characters in Joy Ross Davis’ debut novel, Countenance. Although the Playhouse Inn only exist in the pages of this well-written novel, the author’s lyrical writing style and storytelling ability had me roaming through the rooms (like an invisible guest) in this beautiful old bed and breakfast located in the hills of Tennessee. From the beginning, I fell in love with Aunt Sylvie, an adored cookbook author and the proprietor of this one hundred year old home. We all need an “Aunt Sylvie” doting over us and whipping up her magic in the kitchen of this ancient inn where angels and ghosts live in harmony with the human inhabitants and guests. That is until a troublemaker named Max shows up, but I’ll say no more about this rascal as you will want to read this novel for yourself…” She finished by saying, “From the opening lines until the last page, you will be swept away with the strength of this story. Your spine will tingle… you’ll laugh, you’ll cry. Then you’ll want to get on the phone and book a stay at the Playhouse Inn. And if no one picks up the phone, then you must simply order this book and start reading now. You will not be disappointed.”

Firelight cover (1)         Your third book in The Firelight Angels Book series just released in November 2015. Tell us about it.

Libby Arbuckle has a secret, a deadly secret that could destroy everyone in the small town of Preacher’s Cove, already plagued by a rash of furious storms and mysterious deaths. On assignment to Preacher’s Cove, Hap Murray, a cocky but handsome reporter, meets Libby and is immediately struck by how familiar she seems to him. But when he presses her for information, she tells him only convincing lies. One person in the town, Police Chief Burton Riggs, befriends Hap and urges him to seek out the doll maker, Lucy Arbuckle, Libby’s demented sister and an artistic genius who creates the Firelight Angels, uncanny replicas of children in the Cove. These dolls hold the key to the deadly storms. When Libby finally shares her secret with Hap, she tells him of a living angel, the Angel of Justice, hidden deep in the woods. Their newfound trust in each other turns to love, and they risk their lives to heal Lucy. In doing so, they expose a vicious murderer and save an abandoned child. But solving the murders is only the first step in their struggle to free Preacher’s Cove from the clutches of a tyrant named Ike Madison. After an intense battle at the ancient burial site called The Hallows, Lucy is healed, Ike is finally thwarted, and Hap and Libby come away wounded but thoroughly enamored with each other. Armed with a new love and the story of a lifetime, Hap settles into Preacher’s Cove with Libby and only one last secret: a single thread that will unravel an ancient legend.

Joy, this is a great series. I know you are excited about it.  Looking forward to reading number three.

Keep us posted on any new books releasing.

Contact Joy and let her know how much you enjoy her books.

Website: http://joyrossdavis.com

Twitter: @joyrossdavis

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jdavisangelwriter

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/Joy-Ross-Davis-Author-256923284485421/?ref=hl

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Joy-Ross-Davis/e/B00BNKKR90/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1451751325&sr=1-2-ent


Walking Through An Old Cemetery?

What won’t a writer do for a best seller?

James Grippando headshot (web version) (1)Meet James Grippando, a New York Times Bestselling Author. Who has no problem “unearthing” research for his stories.

Tell us a little about that.

afraid of the darkIn Miami’s Coconut Grove, they have an old Bahamian cemetery. Bodies are entombed above ground in crypts. Walking through this old cemetery at midnight is how I came up with the title for my novel, Afraid of the Dark.  It was worth the trip.

I have no problem visiting a cemetery in the daytime but night…I couldn’t do it. So I take my hat off to you.

To welcome you here today we’ve prepared a drink for you called “Magic Potion Punch.” I hope you readers will join us, be sure and make you some of this delicious punch.

 magic potion Ingredients are  2 packages (3 ounces each) lime gelatin, ½ cup sugar, 1 cup boiling water, 3 cups cold water, 1 quart noncarbonated lemon-lime drink, chilled, 1 ½  quarts lemon-lime soda, child and the directions are: Dissolve gelatin and sugar in   boiling water; add cold water. Transfer to a punch bowl. Stir in lemon-lime drink and soda. Yield: about 4 quarts. For more information go to http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/magic-potion-punch.

The internet is every writer’s best friend and worst enemy. I use the internet extensively but it’s also important to go to the places you write about and meet the type of people who will be the family, friends and neighbors of the characters you create.

I guess that is one reason your books have such good dialogue, because you do visit the places. 

Tell me about developing your dialogue.

Intent to killThe most effective way to develop dialogue is to hear people talk. I wrote a book called Intent to Kill, partly set in Rhode Island. Dialogue didn’t work until I went there, sat in a diner in Pawtucket, and heard how people in Rhode Island talk. There’s nothing more gratifying than to get letters from readers who live in a place you write about and have them ask, “Are you from here?”. That praise happens when you write authentic dialogue, not just when you check Google Maps and determine Main Street runs north and south.”

Good point! 

Tell me about James Swyteck, your protagonist.

the pardonHe’s a criminal defense lawyer and has been in 11 of my 21 novels. I’ve been hearing his voice in my head since my book The Pardon debuted in 1994. It does become a problem in my stand-alone novels. One trick that works for me is once a week or so start my writing day by reading, at random, one of the earlier chapters I’ve written. It’s a great way to test for consistency in that lead character’s voice.

How do you begin your day in writing?

I never roll right out of bed and go to the keyboard. I walk the neighborhood. It really does help you realize that the dream you had last night was not that good, and that it’s probably not the seed for the next “Gone with the Wind”. I start my writing day by self-editing whatever I wrote the previous day. It helps clean up yesterday’s mistakes, but it also gives a running start into the next chapter.

What kind of schedule do you keep?

“I used to write into the wee hours of the morning, at all hours of the day, whenever the inspiration moved me. Or maybe it was that the rhythmic tapping of keys helped put our crying babies to sleep. Now, my approach is very different. Morning time is my writing time. If I’m on deadline, I usually target a certain number of pages rather than hours or minutes per day. I’ll try to average three pages a day (that’s 12 point type, one and half spacing, which correlates pretty closely to a printed book page). Less than that means, I’m slacking off. More than that means I’m rushing it.”

What’s the Artie Exercise?

When I first started writing, I’d get excited about a plot idea, pick up the phone and immediately tell my agent. My thoughts were all over the place. Artie would listen and say, “Type up three pages and send it to me.” I’d bang out three pages and fire it off. Artie would call me right back: “Can you get it to a page?” I’d grumble, but I’d cut it down to a page and send it to him. Artie would call again: “You know, what I really want is just a paragraph.” I’d protest loudly and tell him I couldn’t possibly get it down to a paragraph. I did, of course, and I would send it off to New York. I’d get one more call from Artie: “All I want is one sentence,” he’d say, “and I want you to start that sentence with the words ‘This is the story of …” I’d go back to my computer, and I’d write that one sentence. It was then that I realized I was ready to write my story. It’s still step one in development of a book plot.

What’s step two?

Step two is the outline. I don’t mean Roman numerals followed by points A, B, C etc. Write a condensed version of the book that is anywhere from 20 to 80 pages in length. I never outline beyond the point of conflict in the story. The resolution always comes out in the writing. I find that if I am writing to a specific ending, the ending is contrived. It’s a bit of a leap of faith to write 250 pages and not know how the story is going to end. Some of the greatest plot twists I’ve come up were developed this way.

CaneandAbe hc cWhere does the story for this new book, Cane and Abe come from?

I’ve written marital dramas before (Beyond Suspicion beyond suspician and Lying with Strangers lying with strangers20140213-cover-lying-with-strangers) and I was feeling the urge to write one with a great twist.  Over the past couple of years, I watched my brother-in-law rebuild his life after my younger sister died in a car accident on her way home from the grocery store in Atlanta.  The struggle faced by my lead character, Abe, is what I imagined it would be like to lose your true love and then remarry.  Of course, I’m not writing romance, and when Abe’s new wife goes missing, suspicion mounts around him.  That’s when the suspense kicks in, and the pages start turning.  It was especially fun to draw this story against the dark back drop of Florida’s sugar cane industry.  As a young lawyer, I was heavily involved in the lawsuits brought by the men who harvested sugar cane by hand, wielding their razor-sharp machetes against twelve-foot stalks all day long in the blazing Florida sun.  For my readers, I hope that they will pardon the pun that is the title (Cane and Abe), that the serial killer known as “Cutter” will send chills down their spine, and that the ending will be one that they never saw coming.

You’ve got a busy year in 2015. Tell me about it.  

I have a huge year.  My 22nd  novel, Cane and Abe just released this January and the  23rd  book, Cash Landing releases in June by Harper Collins.  In October my first novella, The Penny Jumper, will be released in hardcover and e-book.  Meanwhile, I’ll be writing the new Jack Swyteck novel for release in early 2016.  I really do feel as though I’m writing faster and better than ever before, and that’s an exciting place to be in this digital world where one book a year doesn’t seem to keep readers satisfied anymore.  So long as I’m having fun, I’ll sustain the pace. I don’t ever want this to feel like “a job.”

James grp751794You were just interviewed in Southern Writers Magazine, the January/February issue and you were the cover. We’ve had wonderful comments on your interview. Thank you. For your readers who don’t know, according to U. S. News and World Report you have been at the top of the legal-thriller ladder for some time. Congratulations.

I really appreciate you being with us today James. I am a fan. And I anxiously await your new book in June. Be sure and send us the cover. I hope you will drop back by and share it with us.

“Thanks for having me Susan and promoting my books.”

Be sure and check out James’s books and his website. He loves to hear from his readers, and you can ask questions.

Visit his website: www.jamesgrippando.com