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and Fearless Friday as told by my guests and me.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Secret Lives and Private Eyes by Heather Weidner



MUSE MONDAY
Please welcome my guest Heather Weidner to Discover Yourself. Heather, where do you get your story ideas and inspiration?

Thank you so much for letting me visit today. I write mystery novels and short stories. And I’m often asked about where my ideas come from.

Settings
I write what I know and where I know. Most of my short stories and my Delanie Fitzgerald mystery series are set in Virginia. I’m a transplanted beach girl from Virginia Beach, but I’ve lived in Central Virginia since the early ‘90s.
The people and landscape are diverse. We have large cities, vast stretches of rural areas, mountains, and beaches. And we have over four hundred years of American history – a setting ripe for interesting characters, murder, and mysteries.

Characters
My characters are made up, but if friends, family, and coworkers look closely, they’ll see phrases and idioms that they frequently use. Sometimes, I’ll even merge the characteristics of two or three real people to make an interesting character.
My sleuth, Delanie Fitzgerald, is a private investigator, and she makes up personas for some of her investigations. I use names of friends and family for aliases, police, and waiter names. And I’ve been known to pay homage to my favorite authors and pop culture icons in minor character names.

Story Ideas
I keep a small notebook with me wherever I am. I jot down notes, snippets of dialog, and great names. As I do research, watch TV, or people-watch, I’m on the lookout for ideas and interesting activities to add to my stories.
My short story, “Spring Cleaning” (Virginia is for Mysteries Volume II 2016) came when we moved our offices at work. The moving company brought in large rolling bins for packing, and that gave me idea for some office spring cleaning when I realized the bin could hold a body.
Sometimes, I get ideas for crimes and capers from real cases, but I usually take liberties with the details. In my short story, "Washed up," (Virginia is for Mysteries 2014) a beat up suitcase washes up on Chick's Beach, and it's filled with some mysterious contents. Back in the ‘80s, there was a real case where suitcases filled with body parts did wash up on beaches along the East Coast. In my story, I thought it would be interesting for beachgoers to find something old and sinister in an unexpected place.

Resources
I am fortunate to be the daughter of a retired police captain. He is my best law enforcement resource. He answers all my weird questions like, “Daddy, what does a meth lab smell like” or “What’s the best way to dispose of a body?”

I also found an amazing tribe of writers with Sisters in Crime and Guppies. They are a wonderful group of sisters and misters who are so generous with their time and advice. My local chapter has great programs. We frequently bring in law enforcement, writing, and publishing subject matter experts for seminars and workshops. Last month, author Jeanne Smith presented “Body Disposal Workshop for Writers.” She is an amazing resource, and I have pages and pages of notes for the next book.

My story ideas come from a variety of sources. And you never quite know where your next bit of inspiration will strike. Happy reading!
 

Secret Lives and Private Eyes is a fast-paced mystery that will appeal to readers who like a strong, female private investigator who has a knack for getting herself in and out of humorous situations. Business has been slow for PI, Delanie Fitzgerald, but her luck seems to change when a tell-all author hires her to find rock star, Johnny Velvet. Could the singer whose life was purportedly cut short in a fiery car crash still be alive? And as if sifting through dead ends in a cold case isn’t bad enough, Chaz Wellington Smith, III, a loud-mouthed strip club owner, hires Delanie to uncover information on the mayor’s secret life. When the mayor is murdered, Chaz is the key suspect. Now Delanie must clear his name and figure out the connection between the two cases before another murder – probably her own – takes place.
Author Biography:
Heather Weidner’s short stories appear in Virginia is for Mysteries and Virginia is for Mysteries Volume II. Currently, she is President of Sisters in Crime – Central Virginia, and a member of Guppies and Lethal Ladies Write. Secret Lives and Private Eyes is her debut novel.
Originally from Virginia Beach, Heather has been a mystery fan since Scooby Doo and Nancy Drew. She lives in Central Virginia with her husband and a pair of Jack Russell terriers.
Through the years, she has been a technical writer, editor, college professor, software tester, and IT manager. Visit Heather at www.heatherweidner.com, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Goodreads.
Author Links:
Website and Blog: www.heatherweidner.com


Thursday, June 23, 2016

You Kept It Because...?

TRIPPIN' THURSDAY
In everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose...in our latest season, with only a vague plan and a touch of creativity, we're off on another adventure. Half of this twosome is retired; my half will probably never know what that means. I promise to share.
Finally, we're at the packing stage. Because we're storing all but what we need at the RV Ranch, we're taking the time to sort through boxes, drawers, and closets. I've had moves, many moves, before where we just pack it all and worry about it at the other end. Those were moves in the 9 to 5 working days when there was very little time to pack. Since Frank is retired and I can call my own hours, we don't have to cram boxes in the evenings or in one weekend.

It's pretty funny...some of the stuff we've carried around for years

Never throw away a cord
such as a big ben of wires and
We kept these because...?
cords. And there have been plenty of drawers or cupboards with things we don't even know what their use.

The last inspection netted us some work. The inspector said we needed to level the yard so it didn't slope toward the house. The yard is the same as when we bought it, except we planted grass. Four years ago, the inspector was fine with the slope. We spent the morning hauling in dirt to fill areas all around the house. Fingers crossed he approves,
otherwise it will take a landscaper to tear up the whole yard.

In the middle of all of this, Frank had cataract surgery. Yeah, that got him out of a few days of work. Did I mention I finished book four in the series and got it off to my editor?

The appraisal is tomorrow. Then the real packing begins. Yep, we are storing it and heading to the Ranch until we decide on another place...or not.

P.S. We still need a home for our workhorse tractor!











Battling pests in 2013

Picking blackberries 2013

Monday, June 20, 2016

Inspiration by Ana Raine


MUSE MONDAY
Please welcome my guest Ana Raine to Muse Monday. Ana, tell us about your inspiration for your latest book.

I live in Michigan and there is a constant joke that there are only two seasons: construction season and wintry season. But for those of us who brave the construction and shut down roads, there are beautiful state parks and flowing ponds, lakes, and rivers.

It was on one of these adventures to my local Metro Park that I came up with the idea for Hidden Wings. There were two swans in the center of the path and a small group of people who hadn’t dared pass by even though there was nowhere else to go. Swans are often characterized as small, fragile and helpless, but in that moment, I saw the true strength that lies within those majestic creatures.

A few weeks later, I went back to the park, but this time there was only one lone swan floating in the pond. The fight had seemed to ebb away and there was a hollow look of sadness about the creature that made me think he had been abandoned. In the romance world, bear or wolf shifters are predominant because of their predatory, protective nature. But swans are not just graceful birds with slender necks, but creatures of beauty who fight for their mates and are broken when separated.

Further research into Irish mythology extended my knowledge of fairies. I created the idea of a Dryma Fairy whose soul is tied to a tree. It seemed only fitting that the protectors of these trees would be the strong swans who captivated me that fateful day.

Hidden Wings (Book 1)

Kanji is the last royal Kuro swan, an ancient race who once served the demonic Sidhee. The Kuro were betrayed and given as slaves to the Dryma fairies. When a Dryma is born, his soul attaches to a tree and to sustain their lives, the Dryma conscript the Kuro to protect their woods. In their servitude, the Kuro are languishing and dying off. Kanji is desperate to reunite his people with their stolen wings, but the task seems impossible.

When Kanji discovers a plan to unite the Sidhee and the Dryma, he tricks the Sidhee prince and attends a masked ball in disguise. There he meets Prince Tristan, who is nothing like the other fairies. Kind and compassionate, Tristan has a plan to free the Dryma from their dependence on the trees—and their need of the Kuro’s protection. It could mean freedom for Kanji’s people, but it might also mean choosing between them and the life of the fairy who is—impossibly—his mate.

When Tristan is wounded in battle and left for dead, his survival depends on the success of his experiments. Can Kanji dare to believe, or must he come to terms with the loss of his mate? 

Buy Link:




R-Excerpt

Long ago, the Kuro Swans had been friends with the Sidhee and had offered their wings in service when the soul stealers needed to come to the human world. I tried to make sense of what Christophe was saying and stuttered a response, “Y-you, I mean, you can’t expect us to steal them a soul.”
            Christophe played with the buttons of his immaculately tidy shirt. “No, I do not. I simply expect you to deliver this,” he reached into his pocket and produced a white envelope sprinkled with colorful flowers. “They will be arriving the night before the party on the South side of the forest. You will meet them there and present them with this. Afterwards, you will escort them to the Castle De Mar. The envelope contains instructions so should they have questions, they will know who to consult with.”
            I swallowed, my lungs dying from a lack of oxygen. “May I ask why you are not meeting them yourselves?”
            Christophe stared at me for so long, I thought he was going to tell me to go to hell and reach for his whip looped through his belt. To my surprise, he said, “Ivan, Seth, why don’t you go downstairs and see if Nicolai needs some help. I’m sure Kanji won’t mind speaking to me…alone.”
            Zain tensed beside me, but I gave him a nod. Sensing they didn’t have much of a choice, Joel and Zain followed the two guards from the room, the door swinging shut with a soft click.
            The music floated up the stairs and the scent of fried food wafted through the floorboards. I rubbed my sweaty hands on my pants and waited for the assault to begin, just like it always did.
            “Did you know the Dryma fairies have a long history of deception and trickery?”
            My jaw clenched, “I can imagine so.”
            “So naturally, we would decide to host a masked ball to celebrate one of our great Prince’s birth.”
            “I suppose it does seem fitting.”
            “Your kind are not the only ones adverse to forming an alliance with the Sidhee. Having a masked ball where my kind can congregate without fear is the perfect way to introduce the Prince of the Sidhee into our community without opposition.” Christophe paused to pour himself another drink from the crystal pitcher before taking a step towards me. He took a swig of the drink and then set it down on the table. Circling me, I could smell his cologne mixed with the alcohol on his breath. “Sidhees can be ruthless and tend to regard all life as little more than wrongs of a ladder.”
            “So why unite with them?”
            Christophe parted my hair with his hand so my neck was exposed, my silky strands falling just above my shoulder. He trailed his hands down my back, resting on my shoulder blades and gently manipulating the muscle so a forced relief washed through me. “Kanji, you should know what it can take to survive.”
            I flinched as he snaked one of his hands around my stomach and pushed his cool fingers up underneath my shirt and jacket so he could touch my skin. “So you need the Sidhee now?”
            “Everything is changing,” Christophe whispered in my ear. “Your lives are tied to the trees just as surely as ours are. So why not stop pretending? I can feel your power in every breath you take. With every movement you make, you are trying to maintain control.”
            “That’s not true.”
            “You were born to be a Prince,” he said softly, stroking my abdomen and working his way up to my chest. “You’re father was tricked by the Sidhee and yet you bear the burden for him. You don’t even know what occurred.”
            “I don’t need to,” I spat. “The fact they betrayed us is enough.”
            Christophe made an indifferent noise before wrapping his other hand around my neck and tangling my hair in his fingers so I was trapped. “What do I have to do to get you to give in? I can provide for you, give you things that would make even Dryma fairies jealous. All you have to do is become mine.”

Ana has studied in Osaka, Japan where she learned about theater and drama. She would love to go back after she is sure her Japanese is efficient enough. Ana loves anything to do with foxes, especially Arctic foxes. One day, Ana will find a way to incorporate her love of foxes into a novel, but until then, she’ll stay focused on fairies, shape shifters, and mythology.

Feel free to stop by her blog for tasty recipes, freebies, and more.

Blog: anarainebooks.blogspot.com
Twitter: @AuthorAnaRaine
Publishers: Dreamspinner Press, Changeling Press, MLR Press  

Ana Raine


Twitter: @authorAnaRaine


 





Wednesday, June 15, 2016

WRITING VILLAINS by F.M. Meredith

WICKED WEDNESDAY
Please join me in welcoming F.M. Meredith as my guest on Wicked Wednesday.
 
As a mystery writer I’ve created my share of villains. However, sometimes the guilty party in a story isn’t really villain, but rather someone who reacted in a violent way to circumstances.
Most writers have been told that a hero or heroine shouldn’t be all good and a villain shouldn’t be all bad. I suppose that’s true in many cases, but if you’re writing about a sociopath or a psychopath it might be difficult to come up with a “good” trait to give them.
Most readers, myself included, seem to favor characters who have a bit of wickedness in them. And it’s also fun to really hate a bad character.
One of the worst characters I ever wrote about—and I had fun doing it—was a really bad police officer. He was nothing like the police officers who get in trouble today; this guy had no redeeming qualities. And yes, I based him on a police officer I knew many years ago, but made the character far worse.
Of course there have been other true villains in many of my mysteries, but in others, the person who committed the crime didn’t fit the definition of a villain.
In my latest book, I have two villains. One is a convicted criminal, Omar Padweitz,  set upon getting revenge, and the other is Elford Lemus, the leader of an odd religious sect. I had fun writing about both of them and giving them what I felt were appropriate names.
F. M. Meredith who is also known as Marilyn Meredith
Blurb for A Crushing Death:
A pile of rocks is found on a dead body beneath the condemned pier, a teacher is accused of molesting a student, the new police chief is threatened by someone she once arrested for attacking women, and Detective Milligan’s teenage daughter has a big problem.

Marilyn Meredith aka F.M. Meredith
Latest Books: Not as it Seems and Violent Departures
Blog: http://marilynmeredith.blogspot.com/

Monday, June 13, 2016

VILLIANS WE LOVE TO HATE by Laurel S. Peterson



MUSE MONDAY
Please welcome my guest today, Laurel S. Peterson. Read on!
Thanks for having me on your blog, Brenda. I’m really pleased to be here.

It’s fun to hate. I particularly love movies or books with juicy villains.

In my new mystery novel, Shadow Notes, protagonist Clara Montague has been away from her home town for fifteen years, avoiding her mother, who didn’t listen to Clara’s intuitions, even when they might have saved her father’s life. Clara has come home because she’s had a dream that her mother is in danger, and shortly after she arrives, her mother is jailed for the murder of her therapist. Is Constance a villain? Is she the kind of woman who could kill someone? Clara doesn’t know.

Figuring that Constance’s enemies will know her even better than her friends, Clara joins the political campaign of her mother’s worst enemy: Andrew Winters. Winters slithers through the novel, oiling his campaign with donations from the town’s elite. Is it true that the enemy of her enemy is her friend? Clara can only find out by sifting through her mother’s and the Winters’ pasts to figure out where their mutual hatred originated. Winters’ sister runs his campaign and nastily teases Clara with dirty secrets from her mother’s past. Are these “secrets” even true? Is there anyone in town she can trust—or are they all villains? You will have to read and judge for yourself! Who are the villains that you love to hate? Thanks for reading and I’d love to hear from you.


EXCERPT from Shadow Notes, by Laurel S. Peterson

Going home meant returning to Mother; it meant dealing with my own guilt. I’d never told her my dream about father’s death, how I’d seen the sleek black casket, the priest, father’s face made up all waxy or plastic, like he belonged at Madame Tussaud’s.  I’d never told her he’d whispered from the casket, “Heart attacks happen, Clara.” I knew when he’d said it that I could prevent it, but I hadn’t. I blamed myself. I blamed her.

Mother lied. When I was little, before I knew better, I would tell her my dreams, and she would get this frightened look on her face. The look intensified whenever I could point to a correspondence in real life. Like the time I dreamed that Timmy Lefkowitz would throw up blood, and then he did on the playground the next day. I shouted at her that if we’d told Timmy’s mom or the teacher, they might have kept Sean Gallagher from beating Timmy half to death in the bathroom because Timmy said the Virgin Mary was just another girl, not a saint. …

Then I’d had the dream that predicted my father’s death, more terrifying than any dream I’d ever had.  Was it symbolic?  real?  She would tell me to ignore it, as she had all the others.  I didn’t want to frighten my father, in case it wasn’t true, and I didn’t want to stay silent, in case it was.  While I was paralyzed by indecision, he died.  I hadn’t forgiven myself for ignoring my intuition. That was fifteen years ago.

Now, here I was again—and this dream felt the same: if I didn’t act on it, Mother would die. She’d pushed me away—but she was my mother, and no matter how angry I was with her, I couldn’t lose another parent. If I saved her, maybe then, I would have done something right, and if I’d done something right, maybe she would be the mother I wanted.
Amazon Buy Link
Visit Laurel's Amazon Page