Today I have a double dose of mystery to announce–two thrillers from the same author, Cindy M. Hogan. Let’s have a look at ADRENALINE RUSH first.

Adrenaline RushSynopsis

A madman with a mission is kidnapping groups of thrill-seeking high school seniors across the country, and it’s up to Christy to stop him.

To do so, she must take on a fearless alter ego and infiltrate a group of adrenaline junkies bent on pushing life to the limit. Death-defying stunts are only the beginning: two groups fit the profile, and Christy must discover the real target before it s too late.

If she chooses the wrong group, more people will disappear. But choosing right puts her as the prime target with no guarantee that she’ll get out alive.


     As I hurtled toward my destination at 500 miles an hour, I pulled out a notebook, placed it on the shiny mahogany table in front of me, and scribbled a quick to-do list. Pick out an outfit. Get folders and notebooks. Switch into fourth period drama. I chewed on the end of my pen. Oh yeah–just one more thing. Get kidnapped.

     According to my pre-mission briefing, kidnappings were up in the States by five percent over the last five years. The significance of which didn’t hit me until I found that the statistics for kidnappings had remained static for a good thirty years. The spike caught the attention of the FBI, and they put their best men on it. The problem? Right when they thought they’d discovered the pattern of the kidnappers, it seemed to change.

     We hit some turbulence, and the force of it pulled me out of my reverie. I sucked in a deep breath, my hands resting on the soft leather side arms of my big comfortable seat as the Gulfstream jet jumped. I let the rollercoaster feeling wash over me like a wave, forcing myself to enjoy every last tingle. I only had this flight and a few hours tonight to assume my new thrill-seeking alias–the one that would lure the kidnappers and save the day before the pattern changed again. I might as well make the most of it.


Thrilling, heart pounding, an Adrenaline Rush indeed!” (Konstanz Silverbow, Author of Only Half Alive)

“Jeremy and Christy have a chemistry akin to a younger version of Alias’ Vaughn and Sydney Bristo.” (S.M. Anderson, author of Copied)

“Hunger Games move over – Adrenaline Rush has arrived.” (D.K. Holbrook, reviewer)

ADRENALINE RUSH is available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle.


And now for her second release, GRAVEDIGGERS.


Seventeen-year-old Billy thinks his father’s murder will never be solved until he stumbles across an old ammo box while digging a grave in his small-town Tennessee cemetery.

What he finds leads him to question everything he knows, and his search for answers will uncover more than he bargained for: lies, secrets, and conspiracies, and behind them all, a dangerous truth.



Why did people have to die in June when it was so dang hot? I jumped on the top edge of my shovel, forcing it into the ground, the metal pressing into the soles of my feet through the holes in the bottoms of my shoes. The muggy late afternoon air sent sweat dripping into my eyes. I wiped my sleeve across my face.

Henry, my best friend since forever, and I had dug three graves in just over two weeks. The average for the Halls, Tennessee cemetery was only one grave a month for the six years we’d been working there. It was hard to believe it would be my last year of digging graves, but I was totally excited about going away to college. Even though I hated sweating to death and would rather be playing baseball, I was stoked about the one hundred bucks I’d earn. I’d finally have a few extra dollars to buy new shoes. I’d seen an awesome looking pair of Nikes at the thrift store just the other day. They had probably belonged to Mikey, Mayor Clement’s youngest son. I didn’t want to have to wear his cast-offs, but I needed every penny for college. Mikey tended to wear something only a few times before tossing it aside anyway. No such luck for me. Use ’em up and wear ’em out was our family’s adage.



“A thrilling mystery with spine-tingling hints and bone-chilling secrets. Hogan has a knack for creating killer scenes that make her books irresistible. Don’t miss this one!” (Rachelle J. Christensen, Author of Wrong Number and Caller ID)

“Mystery, adventure, danger, and a touch of romance fill the pages of Gravediggers.” (Angela Woiwode, reviewer)

“Friendships are tested to the limit and secrets and lies are uncovered in this unpredictable mystery.” (Susan Tietjen, reviewer)


GRAVEDIGGERS is also available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle.



Cindy M. Hogan graduated with a secondary education teaching degree and enjoys spending time with unpredictable teenagers. More than anything she loves the time she has with her own teenage daughters and wishes she could freeze them at this fun age. If she’s not reading or writing, you’ll find her snuggled up with the love of her life watching a great movie or planning their next party. She loves to bake, garden, and hang out and play outdoors.

Cindy Hogan

Originally posted 2013-11-04 11:43:58.

“Monday Mystery” – Mysteries, Suspense Novels, and Thrillers Are Like Driveways

This past week, we had our driveway torn up because of cracking and appearance issues.

photo 3 of driveway

We discovered, in the process, that the pipe for the sprinkler system had been placed just under the concrete surface where it was likely to bear the most weight and wear down.

photo 2 of drivewayphoto 1 of drivewaySo before the new driveway can be poured, a trench needs to be dug and a new pipe fitted to lie more deeply under the ground.

Brian, the guy doing our new driveway, explained that you’ve really got to watch out for builders cutting corners and getting away with it simply because it’s out of view. As he put it, “They come in here ready to pour concrete and they don’t care what’s already there. They’re just going to cover it up.”

Writers can’t be like that. We may be ready to pour out a whole novel’s worth of words, but we’ve got to make sure we’ve laid the proper foundation first. Why? Because our readers will hold us accountable. Particularly when it comes to mysteries, suspense, and thrillers. We have to place certain clues in the right places and in the right ways (there, but not too obvious) and we also have to be sure and include red herrings to keep things complicated enough. After all, our readers are going to be tearing up our “driveways” as they devour our stories and there had better not be any unacceptable surprises.

What kind of driveways are we constructing in the first place? Asphalt? Concrete? One made out of block pavers? It’s pretty easy to tell the difference between all three.

But where do you draw the line in terms of genre between mystery, suspense novel, and thriller?

Author and former literary agent Nathan Bransford came up with these distinctions:

  • Thrillers have action
  • Suspense has danger, but not necessarily action
  • Mysteries have mysteries (something you don’t know until the end)

Still confused? I am. After all, I think THE BOURNE IDENTITY and THE DA VINCI CODE has all three elements.

Another agent, Jessica Faust, says there are three different kinds of mysteries: the cozy (usually involving an amateur sleuth and not too many bloody bodies), the mystery (grittier and darker…definitely more blood), and the suspense/thriller (the darkest of the three…more about stopping a killer than solving a crime). Check out her explanation here.

There’s a fascinating post by novelist Janet L. Smith describing the conclusions of suspense master, Alfred Hitchcock:

  • Suspense has no relationship to fear
  • It’s the state of waiting for something to happen
  • Therefore, the viewer or reader must be informed of an awful, impending event in order to be held in suspense, rather than merely surprised when it happens

Smith points out that a mystery, on the other hand, “is a novel of revelation, with action more mental than physical.” In this case, the audience is not kept informed.

And here’s one final analysis by Maeve Maddox.

Let’s say Mystery is Asphalt, Suspense is Concrete, and Thrillers are those driveways built with block pavers. What kind of driveway do you specialize in, and why? Please let me know in a comment below. I’m interested to find out which is most popular these days.


Originally posted 2013-07-22 17:40:31.

“Wednesday Writer” – Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noël Balen

Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noël Balen are two French authors who write a whodunit series set in wine country. They are Epicures. Jean-Pierre is a magazine, radio and television journalist when he is not writing novels in southwestern France. He is a genuine wine and food lover and the grandson of a winemaker. Noël lives in Paris, where he shares his time between writing, making records, and lecturing on music.

Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noël Balen(Noël Balen and Jean-Pierre Alaux)

The first in the Winemaker Detective series, TREACHERY IN BORDEAUX, was recently published in English by Le French Book, a digital-first publisher of France’s best crime fiction and thrillers in English. The Winemaker Detective series now has 20 titles in French.


(Disclaimer: Any winery information I provide about Washington State in this interview was learned through research on the Internet, and I can’t vouch for its accuracy.)

ME:  First of all, I couldn’t help noticing that the main character in TREACHERY IN BORDEAUX, Benjamin Cooker, a winemaking consultant in his fifties, and his younger, handsome assistant, Virgile, somewhat resemble the two of you. Am I imagining this, or did you indeed fashion the two characters after yourselves in some small measure?

JP AND N:  Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, we are both over fifty, but there is clearly a part of us in Benjamin Cooker, with his somewhat sarcastic view of life, a relative distance in the face of life’s hardships, a sense of memory, and some wisdom in the observation of human passions. However, we drew inspiration from our own children and their friends to develop the character of the young assistant, Virgile, who to us represents an optimistic view of the world. He is sometimes candid and decidedly enthusiastic, with a thirst for learning and always the same energy.

ME:  In any case, why did you decide to make your protagonist part British? Why not purely French?

JP AND N:  It was important for us to have a perspective of the wine world that was not ethnocentric, and that goes beyond France’s borders. The vineyards in Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne are certainly incomparable, but we are aware of the wealth and variety of wine produced worldwide.

Also, there is a long-standing tradition of wine making and appreciation in Britain and throughout the English-speaking world that we thought interesting to highlight. Historically, the English have contributed a lot to the science of oenology (Note: that’s the study of wines for the uninitiated like me), and they left their cultural mark in the Aquitaine region, and particularly in Bordeaux. And, of course, there is the fact that the British have a certain number of legendary figures in the mystery arena, not the least of which being Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle. We thought the blend was a fine way to pay homage.


ME:  You have both been described as epicures–those who take pleasure in fine food and drink. How did your paths first cross, and how did you happen on this approach to a mystery series?

JP AND N:  Our meeting occurred during a cocktail party that ended up with a fine meal, which of course bode well for the future. The conversation quickly turned to our shared passion for wine and our first thought was to create a crime fiction series focusing on the world of winemaking for television. A wine and crime series had not been done. When we were asking around at the French publishing house, Fayard, for contacts in TV, we were surprised to get an immediate proposal to publish the novels.

We owe this to Claude Durand, who was heading up Fayard at the time, and who supported the project and gave us long-term possibilities by signing on the first ten titles right away. (I like how the French do things!) The series’ success led to a contract for another twelve books. The television series was then the next logical step, considering the project’s origin. Now, each of the novels is adapted for TV. The third season is being written now, and will be shot this summer.

DSC_5514 copy(Noël and Jean-Pierre flanking the stars of the TV series)

ME:  As I understand it, the twentieth book in the series came out this past fall, and the pair travels to wine estates not only in France, but around the world. How many of the books are set in the United States? And have you yet visited any of the vineyards in Eastern Washington where I live?

JP AND N:  Our characters have visited vineyards in Hungary (Tokay) and Spain (Rioja and Ribera Del Duero). We often mention wines from other countries in the stories, and in one of the books, we cover the Napa Valley in more detail, because an investor from California purchases property in the area around Bordeaux. We are also planning on setting a plot in Tuscany to celebrate Italian wines. So why not discover the vineyards in Washington State? We will admit to not being familiar with these wines and it would be a real pleasure to go and taste them in person. Discovering a new wine region is always a fabulous experience. When is the best time to come?

(Spring, early summer and fall, according to Wine Enthusiast Magazine. Avoid July and August.)

ME:  Jean-Pierre, you have said, “The world of wine is no more respectable than the world of finance . . . [it] has all the requirements for a detective novel: death, crime, inheritance, jealousy. You name it, all human weaknesses are present.” My question is, do the two of you ever base your plots on actual stories in newspapers or magazines, whether French or not?

JP AND N:  In our experience, reality always exceeds fiction. We will often imagine particularly nasty scandals, terrible violence, warped backstabbing and the most twisted acts, and then when we start digging through local archives, exploring history and even more recent news, we are surprised to find that people have never lacked imagination when it comes to harming their neighbors. The novelist’s job is to put the darkness of the human spirit to music, turning what defies comprehension into a credible story. (That’s a great quote!)

ME:  Now that your series has become a TV hit in France, has it made it a bit more difficult to travel around and do research to capture the history, traditions and flavor of a locale? How important is the setting in your stories?

JP AND N:  Every region has its own specific, singular and absolutely incomparable context. That is what is so incredible about the world of winemaking. Every aspect–the region’s geography and geology, the human factors and social ramifications, the specific climate, the culinary tradition, political choices, and historical events–becomes palpable when you are attentive and receptive.

When we go out researching, we focus both on the people we meet, on their attachment to the region and their way of approaching their work, as well as the numerous details we observe in the field (architecture, nature of the soil, local festivities, etc.). We are very careful to note all the details that contribute to a region’s flavor, its local culture and way of life, right down to the smallest door stud (in copper or porcelain) and the most insignificant road taken (be it paved or unmaintained).

(Okay, if you’re coming to Washington, you might want to check out the wineries on the western side of the state in April when the Tulip Festival takes place in Skagit County.)

ME:  When did each of you know you wanted to be a writer, and what was your first attempt at creative writing?

JP:  I’m less driven by the idea of being a writer than that of telling stories. My work as a reporter was quick to take the mystery out of the act of writing. Being a journalist is more often than not about telling a story with both realism and imagination in order to make things understandable to readers. My first books were short stories, then biographies and finally novels. One thing led to another until writing became a daily part of my life.

N:  Writing is a natural addition to a life that focuses on music. As a child, I read a lot, then later I worked as an instrumentalist and then a record producer. I never envisioned doing anything other than writing and composing. In books, I look for the rhythm, the melody, the harmony, and the alchemy of notes. It doesn’t matter what the story is, as long as the partition invites the reader to take the voyage. My first book was a collection of noir stories, followed by several novels, along with musicology essays and biographies.

ME:  I know that one of you uses a Mac and the other a PC, but I’m wondering what each of your writing spaces look like. Where and when do you do your best writing?

JP AND N:  Yes, one is Mac and one is PC, but that is just a fun detail. Our respective working tools are a sign of how we complement each other and they make us very compatible despite our differences. Jean-Pierre is very attached to his region and his house perched above the Lot River valley, while Noël love Paris a stone’s throw away from the Champs-Elysée.

View of Lot River Valley(A view of the Lot River Valley)

Champs Elysée

(Downtown Paris and the Champs Elysée)

Jean-Pierre works better in the morning, and Noël is a night owl. Our approaches are different and our lifestyles pretty much opposite each other, but we share a number of common points, which is our strength and what holds us together. In addition to our love for food and wine, we also share the same tastes for painting, literature, antiques, outdoor cafés, Moleskine notebooks for jotting down our ideas (YAY! My regular readers know how much I like Moleskine notebooks!), fires in the fireplace and old buildings.

ME:  I read an excellent review of your co-authoring process on the blog, Mystery Fanfare, but how do you manage to fold two separate first drafts (based on a mutually formed outline) into one finished manuscript? How long does it generally take?

JP AND N:  One of us is responsible for doing the fieldwork and writing the first draft, based on a pre-approved plot line. With observations from the sites and an in-depth knowledge of how things are done there, he can give a better feel for the observed reality. The final polishing is then done by the other one, although occasionally, we’ll both do it together.

The time it takes to complete a book varies a lot, but we can say it takes an average of six months between the basic idea and the final manuscript. It depends on the subjects as well as our available time, because we also write our own books in addition to the series.

ME:  Finally, how many more books do you envision for the series, and have you thought about working together on any other kind of series?

JP AND N:  We have the feeling that this writing adventure is a never-ending source of inspiration, kind of like the image of the Daughters of Danaus, whose task was never completed, except that for us it is never a punishment. There is still so much to learn, so many regions to explore, mysteries to unveil and wines to discover. As long as our health permits (helped with some reasonable wine consumption, perhaps), we will continue our explorations. Our readers, and now our television audience, are pushing us to continue, and we can’t let them down.

(Hopefully, they’ll travel to Washington State for one of their future novels.)

Next Wednesday I’m interviewing Frédérique Molay, who won France’s most prestigious crime fiction award for her novel, THE 7TH WOMAN, an international bestseller.

Frederique Molay

Originally posted 2013-01-30 14:11:28.

“Monday Mystery” – CROOKED HOUSE

Marlene Bateman has another brand new Erica Coleman Mystery out, entitled CROOKED HOUSE. And I am honored and pleased to kick off its blog tour.

ACrooked House Blog BANNER with dates


Someone is trying to kill Liz Johnson and it’s up to quirky private investigator, Erica Coleman, to find out who. Erica is no stranger to murder and mystery, which is why her best friend’s daughter, Megan, turns to her when unaccountable and potentially fatal “accidents” threaten her roommate’s life.

Once Erica arrives at the ramshackle old mansion known as Crooked House, matters go from disturbing to deadly as it becomes clear someone is trying to kill Liz. As Erica begins to unearth secrets, she discovers a twisted web of love, money, greed, and deception. Although the police and friends sometimes find Erica’s OCD annoying, its those very traits that help her sift through evidence and see clues that others miss. Erica must draw upon her all her investigative prowess to keep Liz safe and unmask the killer before he can accomplish his deadly objective.

With a dash of romance and surprising twists, this thrilling mystery will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last page. As with all Erica Coleman mysteries, ten delicious recipes are included.

A Cover for A Crooked House


“I’m scared.”

Erica’s heart turned over when she heard the quaver in her young friend’s voice on the phone.

Then Megan asked, “Can you come?”

“Of course.” Erica’s reply was automatic. She would do anything she could to help. Although she often received emotionally-laden phone calls in her job as a private investigator, there was a difference when the call came from the teen-aged daughter of her best friend. The very fact that Megan—who was usually so calm and composed—sounded frightened out of her wits, put Erica on high alert.

“I think someone’s trying to kill my roommate, Liz,” Megan said.

“What makes you think that?” Erica asked. “Has someone threatened her?”

“No, but Liz has had a couple of serious accidents lately—at least she says they’re accidents, but either one of them could have killed her.”

Erica made an effort to reel in her skepticism. “Tell me about them.”

“First, someone tampered with her car. The brakes went out and Liz ended up driving across someone’s yard and hitting a tree. Fortunately, she was okay. The second one happened downtown. Liz was on the sidewalk waiting for the bus when someone shoved her. She fell into the road. A truck was coming and if a guy hadn’t pulled her back, Liz could have been killed.”

Still, they could have been accidents, Erica thought, at least until the third one occurred—this time at Crooked House.

A picture of Marlene Bateman


Marlene Bateman was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, and graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She is married to Kelly R. Sullivan. Her hobbies include gardening, camping, reading, and enjoying her four cats and three dogs.

A Cover for Motive for MurderMarlene’s first novel was the best-selling Light on Fire Island. Her next novel was Motive for Murder—the first in a mystery series that features Erica Coleman, a quirky private eye with OCD. The next book in that line, (they do not have to be read in order) is A Death in the Family.

A Cover for A Death in the FamilyMarlene has also written a number of LDS non-fiction books under the name Marlene Bateman Sullivan. Those books include: Gaze Into Heaven; Near-death Experiences in Early Church History, which is a fascinating collection of over 50 documented near-death experiences from the lives of early latter-day Saints, Heroes of Faith, and Latter-day Saint Heroes and Heroines. Marlene also wrote three books about documented accounts in early LDS church history when a person either saw or heard an angel; Visit’s From Beyond the Veil, And There Were Angels Among Them, and By the Ministering of Angels.

All three mysteries in the series are available in such physical bookstores as Deseret Book and Seagull Book, as well as online at Amazon, Deseret Book, and Seagull Book.

For more information about the author, check out her website as well as my previous  interview with her.

Originally posted 2015-04-20 06:00:11.

“Monday Mystery” – THE MYSTERIOUS DOLL (Amelia Moore Detective Series)

Here is the latest mystery in Linda Weaver Clarke’s series. Amelia Moore, the founder of the Moore Detective Agency, specializes in missing persons. Her cases have taken her to some very interesting places and put her in some dangerous situations, but she always solves the case. With the help of her partner, Rick Bonito, the business is flourishing and now she’s got another case:

Mysterious Doll web


Pauline Jones is confused why her boyfriend took off without telling a soul where he was going. But that isn’t all. Sam Whitaker is accused of stealing a valuable porcelain doll from the museum. His disappearance makes him look guilty, but Pauline is convinced he is innocent. When Amelia finds Sam, she realizes they need to prove his innocence. Where is the antique doll and who has taken it?


As she closed the drawer, a young woman walked through the door with red-rimmed eyes. It looked as if she had been crying, and Amelia could tell she was upset.

“You’ve just got to help me,” said Pauline as she pushed her thick dark hair out of her eyes. “Sam’s innocent. He didn’t do it.” With a look of despair, she softly said, “Sam didn’t steal that porcelain doll. He’s not a thief. He’s been framed.”

As Amelia sat down, she motioned to a chair in front of her desk. “Please have a seat, Miss Jones.”

Pauline walked to the chair and sat down. She then took a calming breath and said, “A porcelain doll was stolen from the museum.”

Amelia nodded. “I read about it in the paper.”

“Well, the very day it disappeared… so did Sam. The police think he took it.” She wrung her hands and said adamantly, “But it’s not true.”

“Tell me why you think he’s innocent,” said Amelia.

“Because I know him. He wouldn’t do such a thing. Not Sam. He’s too smart for that. Besides, why would he become a thief just before asking me to marry him?”

Amelia raised a curious brow. “How do you know he was going to propose?”

Pauline leaned forward and said, “It wasn’t hard to figure out. A woman can tell those kinds of things. Lately we’ve been talking about a more serious relationship. But that isn’t all. I accidentally found an engagement ring in his glove compartment. Of course, I didn’t tell him. I didn’t want to ruin the surprise.’

When Amelia laughed, a slight smile tugged at Pauline’s lips.

After a moment, Pauline became sober as she asked, “Miss Moore, will you please find him for me?”



Linda Weaver Clarke travels throughout the United States, teaching people to write their family history and autobiography. She has traveled to seventeen states and given over 450 workshops. Clarke is the author of several historical sweet romances, a mystery/adventure series, a children’s book, and a cozy mystery series. All her books are family friendly.

(If you want to know more about Linda, check out my earlier interview with her here.)

THE MYSTERIOUS DOLL can be purchased online from Amazon or Barnes & Noble. In fact, all her e-books are available at Smashwords.

Originally posted 2015-02-02 09:37:13.

“Monday Mystery” – BLIND MAN’S BARGAIN

In the mood for a mystery with a great twist right at the end? You might want to check out Tracy Winegar’s latest, BLIND MAN’S BARGAIN.

Final BMB cover


When a blind old man hobbles into Nelson Rune’s private investigation office, the young PI doesn’t expect to be hired to solve a forty-five year old murder mystery.

Harry Fletcher claims he adored his wife, Caroline — so why did he go to prison for her murder?

With the help of Cleo, his pretty neighbor, young Nelson will sift through clues of Harry and Caroline’s marriage to clear Harry’s name and find the real killer.

Tracy Winegar seamlessly weaves a story of love and secrets, opportunities and regrets in a novel that surprises to the very last page.


Nelson reviewed everything he had pertaining to Harry Fletcher’s case and had come to the conclusion that there was nothing that he hadn’t overlooked in his own trove of records and evidence. He determined that he would have to figure out a way to actually look at the evidence from that night. He would have to try to talk his way into being allowed to see it; that’s what he would do. But how?

When he inquired into the matter, he was told that no one was allowed access to evidence, even to a case as old as the Fletcher case. It was an irritation, much worse than a burr under a saddle. To come so close to wrapping it up, to nearly having all of the loose ends neatly tied, and then be rebuffed was more than he could bear.

And then it dawned on him. As he struggled with sleep one night, the answer came to him in a soft sibilant murmur to his brain, as if someone else had given him the solution to his problem. If he wanted to see the evidence, he was going to have to steal it…



Tracy Winegar enjoys cooking and gardening in her free time. She loves all things vintage and considers several family heirlooms to be her prized possessions. She’s also always on the lookout to score pieces to add to her growing Jadeite collection. Tracy lives with her husband and four beautiful children in Northern Utah. Although she doesn’t mind living in the desert, she still misses the green of the Midwest where she was born and raised. Her philosophies of life, love, and family are deeply anchored in those small town Indiana roots.

(If you want to know more about Tracy, check out my earlier interview with her here.)

BLIND MAN’S BARGAIN can be purchased online from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Originally posted 2014-09-08 09:34:38.

“Wednesday Writer” – Linda Weaver Clarke

Linda Weaver Clarke says she enjoys writing stories that have adventure and romance with good old-fashioned values. I would say that the books she has published thus far certainly fill the bill. Some emphasize the romance, others the adventure, but they’re always “clean reads.” Now to dig a little deeper. :D

Linda Weaver Clarke

ME:  Some of my ancestors helped settle southeastern Idaho. In which town were you raised, what were your favorite and least favorite chores on the farm, and how did you end up in southern Utah? (I’d love to post pictures of you as a youngster on the farm and then as a mother in southern Utah.)

LINDA:  I was raised in Whitney, near Preston. (That’s about 165 miles south of my dad’s hometown of Parker.) My favorite chores were mowing the lawn and hanging up the clothes to dry. My least favorite was weeding the garden. (Here is a pic of me in Idaho when I was little. I’m with my mom and older sister.)

Eastertime(Dressed for Easter)

I ended up in southern Utah because my husband found a job here. We were instantly interested in this area simply because of the warm winters. We were both tired of shoveling snow, especially driving in it. (Here is a pic with my six daughters, sons in law, and grandchildren at our home in St. George.)

Family2(We’re practically neighbors!)

ME:  What was the first thing you ever wrote that made you think, “Hey, I’m pretty good at this. I think maybe one day I’ll get published?” And how old were you at the time?

LINDA:  When I was a young girl, I wrote plays and added songs to them; songs that were published, of course, since I was so young. I always thought my little musicals were clever.

Then one day my daughter wrote home and said that her mission president wanted her to know more about her ancestors, so she requested me to write their stories. I did, but when I was done, I couldn’t stop writing. That was the beginning. I now have six historical romances, four mystery/adventure novels, one children’s story, two non-fiction pieces, and a new cozy mystery series.


ME:  I take it college was interrupted for you by marriage. If so, what were you majoring in at the time, and at that time did you think you’d finish your degree one day? Why or why not?

LINDA:  I started back to college in 1998, when all my children were in school. At the time, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to graduate or not because I was so worried that it might be more than I could handle. To put it simply, I was scared.

It took one of my daughters saying, “Hey, take a class with me. It’ll be fun.” So I did and it was fun. I majored in music and theatre and graduated in 2002 at Southern Utah University.


ME:  I have to hand it to you. It takes an awful lot of courage to step back into a college classroom thirty years later to pick up where you left off. What was the same and what was different? Please share some of the highlights of those later college years (along with a picture or two).

LINDA:  My husband was so proud of me. (I’ll bet!) He’s giving me a “congratulations kiss” in this pic.

George and me3

What was the same? The professors.

What was different? My mind wasn’t as young as it used to be. And scantrons? I had never heard of such a thing. Not only that, but computers were a new thing to me. My children had learned how to use them in school, but I was completely baffled at how they worked. They said I couldn’t graduate without taking a computer class. I think that was my most difficult class of all. If not for my daughter, I would have been so lost.

One of the highlights I had was being in Guys and Dolls. I was the head missionary: General Cartwright. It was fun. (Too bad you didn’t include a picture of you in costume.)

ME:  What was the first book (fiction or nonfiction) that you had published, and how does it compare to your latest of that same genre?

LINDA:  MELINDA AND THE WILD WEST was my first published book. It’s a historical romance and it won an award. It was one of the semi-finalists for the Reviewers Choice Award. I was so excited because this was my first book. All my romances are clean and sweet.

MWW web

How does it compare? My husband said he could see that my writing skills improved with each book I wrote.

(That’s always a good sign.)

ME:  You’ve written (and are continuing to write) several series. What’s easier and more enjoyable for you—a stand alone novel or a series, and why? Also, which of your series is the most fun to write, and why?

LINDA:  A series isn’t harder than a stand-alone because each book has its own plot. I love writing a series because I usually fall in love with the characters, and then I can create another story for them. When I write a series and it’s the last book, I usually shed a few tears because it’s like a “farewell” to those people. Crazy, huh?

I’ve had the most fun writing my cozy mysteries. I don’t know why, either.

ME:  I know you do a lot of research for your novels. Which book was the most fun to research, and which was the most difficult, and why?

LINDA:  The most fun was learning about Bali Island in THE BALI MYSTERY and learning about Ireland in THE SHAMROCK CASE. I wanted to go there so bad after my research.

The most difficult research for me was for MAYAN INTRIGUE. It was hard work. I had to read The Trial of the Stick of Joseph and Ancient Ruins of America by Jack H. West. I took the knowledge I gleaned from that book and let my characters tell the story of the Mayan people. It turned out to be one of my favorite mystery/adventure stories.

Mayan IntriqueME:  Tell us about your latest book and what you’re working on now?

LINDA:  This is called the Amelia Moore Detective Series and it’s book number 2. Amelia Moore, the founder of the Moore Detective Agency, specializes in missing persons. Her cases have taken her to some very interesting places and put her in some dangerous situations, but she always solves the case. With the help of Rick Bonito, her new partner, her business is flourishing.

Shamrock web

In THE SHAMROCK CASE, Amelia is hired to search for her client’s grandparents. The case takes them to Ireland. Kate must learn about her heritage. Who are her grandparents and could they still be alive after all these years? Why did her parents leave Ireland suddenly and move to America? Is there more to this case than meets the eye?

What am I working on now? Book number 3 in this series. It’s called The Missing Heir. Dell Murphy has passed on and left a fortune to his nephew. He wants his nephew to continue his work at the orphanage in Mexico, but there is one problem. Neal Woods is missing! If Amelia and Rick can’t find him soon, the fortune will be turned over to Dell’s brother and sister who intend to close down “Uncle Dell’s Orphanage.” If that happens, where will the children go?

ME:  Finally, please describe your writing space, highlighting the three things about it that make it uniquely yours. (And I must have a picture of that space.)

LINDA:  I have several writing spots. I have a small desk that I can write at. If I’m not feeling good or my back is sore, then I put pillows behind me and I write in bed. If I miss the out-of-doors, I go outside and sit on my swing, put my laptop on my lap, and have fun writing. When summer arrives here in St. George, it gets in the hundred degrees, so I usually go outside early in the mornings and am back in the house by eleven o’clock. So it always varies with me, depending on my mood. Here’s a pic of what I see when I’m outside on my swing. We call it Big Red.

big-red-web(Here’s the view without the room. It looks very familiar.)

For more information about Linda and her writing, click on her website. She even has a page for purchasing her books.

As a special treat, I’ll be interviewing Linda’s daughter, Serena Clarke, next week. Unlike her mother, she delves entirely in fantasy.

Serena Clarke

Originally posted 2014-05-21 06:00:49.

“Wednesday Writer” – Lisa Alber

I first met Lisa Alber about ten years ago when we were placed in the same group of aspiring authors at the Maui Writer’s Retreat. Under the tutelage of published authors like Gail Tsukiyama and others, we studied and worked on the craft of writing, in general, and our own stories, in particular. It’s a real pleasure to introduce her to all of you now, especially since her debut novel KILMOON has received such glowing praise.

?????????????????ME:  Growing up in Marin County as you did, what aspect(s) of your childhood or youth led you most to become a writer? (I’d love to post a picture of you as a child.)

LISA:  I spent a lot of time rambling the Marin Headlands, which were essentially my backyard. Without realizing it, I steeped myself in a moody, fog-enshrouded atmosphere that was almost like a giant incubation chamber for my imagination. It’s no wonder I love setting my books in Ireland—the atmosphere is very similar.

(And here’s a picture of the Marin Headlands to prove it. Below it is a picture of Lisa as a kid.)

Marin_HeadlinesKid_LisaME:  What book or books led you to believe you could be a successful novelist, and why? Also, how old were you when you came to that realization?

LISA:  As I think about this, I realize that there aren’t any books that led me to believe I could be a successful novelist. The closest thing I can think of is Anne Lamott’s BIRD BY BIRD: SOME INSTRUCTIONS ON WRITING AND LIFE, and that’s only because of her chapter about allowing yourself to write “shitty” (her word) first drafts.

Bird by Bird

That permission was all I needed to feel comfortable with writing first drafts—which is key. No one gets published who can’t get over themselves enough to complete a first draft. I read Lamott’s book when I was around 30 years old.

(I have to admit I’m relieved to interview an author who didn’t really take herself seriously until she was middle-aged. :D)

ME:  Why on earth did you major in economics at Berkeley? And why a minor in Spanish literature, given your ancestry in Ireland?

LISA:  Ah, economics … I was raised by very practical parents. Get good grades, go to a good college, major in something practical so you can support yourself. Writing fiction was a slow-dawning realization through my 20s, not a forgone conclusion. I majored in economics because it was the least practical of the practical alternatives.

Being a book lover, I minored in literature to keep my sanity, and Spanish literature in particular because in high school I’d done volunteer work in Central America. I wanted to keep up my Spanish. My infatuation with Ireland didn’t come until later.

I thought about majoring in psychology – which would have been a good fit – but I could never have been a psychologist. Or any service profession that centers around working with people all day: doctor, lawyer, nurse, teacher. I’m too introverted. (That, I understand. Most of us are introverts.) ME:  In the early 1990s, before we met, you worked in the editorial departments at Warner Books and Doubleday. What did you do there, and why did you decide to leave? LISA:  So, economics with Spanish literature took me to South America after college. I worked in Ecuador and then Brazil as a financial assistant (learned Portuguese too). That was all very nice, and it sounds good, but I hated it! Come to find out that in the real world I SUCK at numbers. I’ve always been a words-oriented person. So much for being practical, right? I returned to the U.S. eventually and changed careers – to book publishing, which was a far better fit. I had a blast living in New York City, but eventually I left because I’m a true west coaster. I never felt entirely at home in NYC. (Aha! The Atlantic didn’t compare to the Pacific, eh?) At Warner and Doubleday, I worked for senior editors as an editorial assistant. Book heaven, plus a great education in the publishing process. (I’ll bet!) ME:  How pivotal have writer’s conferences and retreats been in your quest to become a published novelist? How many different ones have you been to and which have been your favorites? LISA:  Writer’s conferences and retreats have been instrumental. People I’ve met have opened all kinds of doors, leading to short story publications, a writing grant, long-term wonderful friendships – to eventually being a panelist and speaker at writers conferences. (The latter is new; I’m not very comfortable with that yet.) (Ever the introvert, eh? :D) The defunct Maui Writers Conference (which we both love, right?) is dear to my heart because it was the first and it paved the way. These days, my favorites are specialized conferences such as Bouchercon and Left Coast Crime, which cater to the crime fiction community. ME:  You seem to have had two great influences in your life that have been reflected in your writing—NYT bestselling novelist Elizabeth George and the country of Ireland. Could you talk about the impact each has had on you? (And please provide a couple of pictures for each.) LISA:  Elizabeth George was my first-ever workshop teacher. I consider her a mentor because over the course of three workshops, she gave me specialized feedback.

With-Elizabeth-George_atMWC(Lisa with Elizabeth in Maui)

I was lucky – maybe she liked something about my writing, or she saw my growth – because after the third workshop she invited me to apply to her foundation for a writing grant (which I got) and she also invited me to write a short story for an anthology she was editing called Two of the Deadliest: New Tales of Lust, Greed, and Murder from Outstanding Women of Mystery. This was my first paid fiction publication.

Two of the Deadliest

Most of all, she was the first to tell me I had talent and should keep working at it. I’ll always be grateful to her.

withEGeorge(Elizabeth and Lisa more recently)

And Ireland! Wow, what can I say about that? Something about the country inspires me. It might be my genetic connection to the ancestral homeland … But I think it’s also a comfort thing because of what I mentioned above about rambling the Marin Headlands. Also, Ireland is steeped in a kind of mysticism that will never be totally eradicated by modern life. There are countries/cultures we just fit with, you know what I mean? (I think I do . . . that’s how I am about the Middle East.) ME:  Tell us a bit about your debut mystery, KILMOON, and what gave you the idea for the story.

kilmoon_72dpiLISA:  KILMOON is a mystery set in Ireland. In it, Californian Merrit Chase travels to County Clare to meet her long-lost father, the famous Matchmaker of Lisfenora. Her simple, if fraught, quest turns complicated when she’s pulled into a murder investigation and she discovers that her father’s dark past is at the heart of the chaos. Murder, vengeance, betrayal, and family secrets—not the family reunion she was hoping for!


The first inkling for a story idea came as a result of wandering into a pub called, of all things, “Matchmaker Bar,” Lisdoonvarna, Co. Clare. (And I remember you talking about this experience in Maui!) Come to find out that every September Lisdoonvarna hosts an annual matchmaking festival with a bonafide matchmaker. The man’s a local celebrity. Since I tend to think in sinister terms rather than fluffy terms (no romances for me!), I got to wondering what could lurk beneath the façade of a charming matchmaker. I liked the juxtaposition of darkness hiding beneath happily-ever-afters.

Kilmoon-Church-sign(And nothing connotes darkness like an old Irish cemetery)

ME:   What are you working on now, and are you going to stick with Ireland for now or set a story closer to home in Oregon?

LISA:  Sticking with Ireland! I’m currently revising the second in the County Clare Mystery series. This story centers around the detective, Danny, who along with Merrit, are the series protagonists. (KILMOON is Merrit’s story.)

I’m calling the second novel Grey Man, and in it things get personal, oh so personal, for Danny when a teenage boy dies and disaster hits Danny’s family as a result. (Sounds great! Can’t wait.) ME:  Finally, what five things about your writing space make it specifically yours and why? Please tell us about them in the voice of your protagonist’s father, Liam the Matchmaker. (And I must have a picture of your office or writing space.) LISA:  (As Liam) We Irish, we love our symbols and our spaces. We like nothing better than to ritualize the simplest tasks, from making tea to stoking a peat fire. I suppose it should surprise no one that Lisa Alber parked her writing desk in front of the picture windows in her living area. Not to be hemmed in, that lass, even while pursuing her solitary writing tasks. You can see her rituals right there, in the latest journal that always sits at her side (with an owl on it; she loves owls). You will also see a framed German proverb that says, “Begin to weave and God will give the thread,” not to mention her mascot, Liam the Lion—which is my nickname, if you must know. She also can’t be without her full-spectrum desk lamp because it does get a mite murky in Oregon, just like it does in Ireland. (Love it! And you have to read it with an Irish accent, whether you can do a good one or not!)

photo(And here’s the photo…I spy an owl.)

Lisa Alber’s County Clare mysteries feature Merrit Chase, a recent transplant from California, and Detective Sergeant Danny Ahern. Her debut, KILMOON, has been called “moody,” “utterly poetic,” and a “stirring debut.” She received an Elizabeth George Foundation writing grant based on KILMOON. Ever distractible, you may find Lisa staring out windows, fooling around online, or drinking red wine with her friends. Ireland, books, animals, photography, and blogging round out her distractions.

You can find Lisa at: website | Facebook | Twitter | blog.

Please come back next Wednesday when I’ll be talking with Linda Weaver Clarke, author of cozy mysteries, sweet romance, adventure stories and more!

Linda Weaver Clarke

Originally posted 2014-05-14 06:00:12.

“Wednesday Writer” – Virgil Alexander

A lover of history, particularly that of the American Southwest, Virgil Alexander pens mysteries set in that region. His mysteries explore current issues as well as the different cultures of those that live in Arizona, be they white ranchers, Native Americans, or Mexican immigrants. I featured his latest, SAINTS AND SINNERS, just this past Monday, but let’s get to know the author better.


ME:  Growing up in Arizona as you have, and raising horses and livestock, who turned you on to reading—your mother or your father, or both? And which book in your youth first gave you the idea that one day you might like to try writing fiction yourself? (Please provide a picture of you as a child in Arizona, either camping or riding a horse.)

VIRGIL:  I have loved reading as far back as my memory goes. Even before I could read Mom would read to me (as well as the other kids). We had two or three hundred children’s books, and a good encyclopedia; I think we had every “Little Golden” book ever printed. (I remember those!) As I think about it, that is remarkable because we were poor with very little disposable income, yet we were rich in books.

Mom was herself an ardent reader and a constant student; she read almost every genre, the Bible, many magazines, the daily paper, and loved history, archeology, and geography. (She sounds like a woman after my own heart.) So there is no doubt that she was my earliest and strongest reading influencer, but Dad was also a frequent reader. He was a very physically active man, a skilled outdoorsman, hunter, cowboy, mechanic, and equipment operator. He read the paper every day and would read western paperbacks in the evening. Strangely enough, I have always enjoyed writing; I can’t remember a seminal event that spurred it. I got a lot of recognition in school for my written answers, reports, and term papers so maybe the recognition encouraged me to keep writing.

Virgil Cowboy Hat 1949(The author as a child with his Great Uncle Virgil, his mother’s uncle)

ME:  When and why did you first get interested in the ranch history of Gila County, Arizona?

VIRGIL:  Our family routinely explored back roads and trails within thirty miles of our home, so we grew up knowing where ranches were and some of their history, as well as a number of the ranchers personally. When I was a little kid and people would ask me what I wanted to be, the answer was, “a cowboy and a preacher.” So the interest was just intrinsic in me.

I was never as skilled in cowboy things as my two brothers, and none of us could hold a candle to Dad’s skills. I loved riding and was good at all the work of taking care of our horses and livestock (didn’t like it all that much), but never qualified, as hoped, to be a cowboy. Ironically I did become a preacher – I joined the LDS Church at 16 and served a mission to Canada from age 19-21, and was later a bishop and high councilman, so have done a lot of preaching.

What started me working on Ranching in the Heart of Arizona – The history of ranching in Gila County, was a conversation with a life-long friend and school-mate, a ranch owner named Jane Bohme Hale. We were lamenting the passing of a long time rancher and I said something like, “Somebody should get these people’s history before they are all gone.” Jane said, “Why not you? You are good at writing and are interested.” Why not? I started researching and interviewing shortly after that.

(Good for her!)

ME:  Why did you go into mining? And please share a couple of your most interesting trips abroad as a corporate businessman for an international mining company? (Plus photos. :D)

VIRGIL:  Globe and Miami were founded in support of mining, first rich silver and gold deposits, then even richer deposits of copper. Ranching, government, and tourism are also important parts of the local economy, but 80% of the families either work in the mines or are secondary businesses or organizations supported by the mines and the family budgets of miners.

Mining towns are a real melting pot of people from many countries, with many skills and professions. They probably have a larger proportion of scientists, engineers, technologists, and business professionals than most major cities, with the difference that people of all economic strata attend the same schools, churches, and organizations. They are vital and interesting places to live.

(Actually, I can understand that having recently moved from the Tri-Cities in Washington, where everything developed around nuclear engineering…similar type of melting pot.)

As a native of that community, and considering the fact that mining paid better and offered opportunity for education and advancement, mining was more or less a natural choice for a career. I started as a laborer and eventually became a corporate process manager and technical superintendent.

Arequipa-Peru(Arequipa, Peru)

One of our South American properties was a mine near Arequipa, the second largest city in Peru. I made dozens of one or two week visits there and enjoyed the place and the people.

I will mention two interesting things about working at that mine. When we first acquired the mine, in the process of analyzing its strengths and weakness many existing employees of all levels of the company were interviewed. We could not help but notice that virtually all the female employees out of a total workforce of over 600 were clerical workers, single, and quite attractive. As an executive secretary was interviewed, the interviewer somehow found out she was married; she broke into tears and begged them not to tell anyone, or she would be fired. It turned out that part of the job of a clerical worker was to be mistress to her boss; to avoid any problems with husbands they required the workers to be single. It took us years to change the culture toward female employees. I moved two Peruvian female engineers onto my team and stood behind them as they took leadership over the old guard and eventually gained acceptance. (Good for you!)

On one two week project we worked the weekdays but had the weekend open, so I arranged with the company to book our team for a tour of Cuzco and Machu Pichu. We flew to Cuzco, toured the city and the nearby Sacsayhuaman ruins. We took the train to Machu Pichu, toured that ruin, and then flew by helicopter back to Cuzco. It was an unforgettable experience of breathtaking beauty and ancient marvels.

(I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.)

Cuzco Peru(Cuzco, Peru)



Machu Pichu Peru

 (Machu Pichu)

While there were many interesting assignments, I really enjoyed conducting a weeklong project at our plant in Rotterdam, Holland. Not only was the plant a marvel of great processes and effective management, but the people were wonderful and the history and scenery were terrific. I loved the old fortified city of Brielle, with its great history.

Brielle Holland(Brielle, Holland)

ME:  When did you write your first piece of fiction on your own (meaning other than as a school assignment) and what was it about?

VIRGIL:  I dabbled with short fiction stories on my own throughout my youth, generally with my only readers being my mom and my pal, Dale. I started my ranch research in about 2007. My first attempt at a commercial fiction story was inspired by the migration of the Bohme ranch family from Texas to Arizona in 1885. I wrote a piece about a young man leaving home to help on the cattle drive and falling in love with the Arizona frontier. I sent it to a few magazines and literary journals, but it received no interest.

(Sounds like it was a good start, though.)

ME:  You say you’ve also written poetry, and since we’ve just concluded National Poetry Month, would you mind sharing one of your shorter poems?

VIRGIL:  Most of those were written before I was married, and perhaps fortunately, they are lost somewhere in my unpacked moving boxes. One I was proud of and actually illustrated with pen and ink sketching was about the Superstition Mountains, and it was several pages long. I typed it on my portable typewriter while at Eastern Arizona College, I think, in 1964. I really don’t think I am good poet, but I enjoyed it. The following, based on an actual incident of my Dad’s, is the only piece of my so called poetry I could find:

The Day We Lost Buck

by Virgil Alexander


Buck was a big horse; Buck was a good horse,

he knew all the tricks a’ the trade.

When he was a ropin’ at a hard run or lopin’,

he saw that the catch was made.


No cow, young or old, frightened or bold,

could leave the herd with Buck on guard;

He’d cut and he’d bite, he’d kick and he’d fight,

‘til at night the cattle was in Cherry Creek yard.


Dub the cowboy, on Buck astraddle,

he knew all the tricks a’ the trade.

On Alf Devore’s roundup Dub drove the cattle,

an’ deserved ever’ cent he was paid.


Deer season, ‘n cowboy turned hunter,

riding old Buck, he had good luck,

but when he pulled the trigger,

with no warnin’ Buck went amok.


He threw Dub ‘midst a cedar, spinnin’ like a beater,

he rolled, he leaped, he jumped, all a’ quiver

‘til he broke the reins, lost the saddle,

an’ kickin’ and pootin’ hightailed it up Salt River.


Alf and the boys come a gawkin’ “Why the big noise?”

They was still a laughin’ as they spurred after old Buck.

Pickin’ up the trail and Dub’s scattered toys

they searched ridge and canyon without any luck.


Alf said, “Buck was a big horse; Buck was a good horse,

An’ he knew all the tricks of the trade.

He could do the job, and keep the cattle a’ mob,

but he might a’ been gun shy, I’m afraid.”


ME:  In what way is the American Southwest a leading character in your writing?

VIRGIL:  I spend a lot of time describing the setting, geology, natural history, and human history in my stories. For example THE WHAM CURSE begins with:

“The Southeastern boundary of the San Carlos Apache Indian reservation in central Arizona is located in a remarkable “mixing and jumbling” of geology, as if the Apache ga’an (mountain spirits) had stirred these ranges, mesas, canyons, plateaus, and broad valleys with huge trowels into a great practical joke on puny man. Among these features, seemingly occurring with total randomness along canyons and washes are peculiar cliffs consisting of large river rocks of many types and colors mixed into a matrix of hard pale-tan caliche.

The cliffs have a rugged texture consisting of many protruding rocks and of holes of varying size and depth where boulders have been eroded free of their surrounding matrix. Some rocks long ago fell to the sand wash below the cliffs and some remain in their little cave created by wind and rain. These holes are used by insects, snakes, rodents, and birds as nesting places; and sometimes by man as a place to stow or hide something.

Earl “Boy” Begay lived in his grandma’s home on the reservation, and often played and explored along the bottom of these cliffs. He liked nothing better than mysterious places. He…”

Note there are two descriptive paragraphs of the setting before the first character is mentioned.

Wham Front Cover 2 14

ME:  Tell us more about your first novel, THE WHAM CURSE, and its historical background. What writing process did you follow to produce it?

VIRGIL:  I have been a student of Southwestern history since I was in elementary school, so I was surprised when, as part of my ranch research, I stumbled on the story of the ambush and robbery of Major Joseph Wham’s US Army payroll escort near Ft. Thomas in 1889.

I got sidetracked and researched it and discovered that it is one of Arizona’s lost treasure stories. It occurred to me that fictionally answering the question of what happened to the loot (it is lost by the robbers), and what would happen if found today (for one thing a murder), would make a really good story line.

(I agree!)

My process was simple. I imagined the plot and the characters I wanted involved, and the problems and subplots that might take place in such a story. I turned this into a general outline and started writing. As I developed the story I did a lot of research on each scene and the processes that would be involved in it. I found myself working in a series of vignettes, and have continued to use that technique.

ME:  You say SAINTS AND SINNERS is a sequel, to be followed by The Baleful Owl. What are the basic themes in this series and what are you hoping readers will take away from it?

CF - Saints and Sinners final frontVIRGIL:  The continuing themes from one story to the next include: 1) the setting is rural and small town; 2) the three main characters, who share a trust and friendship; 3) recurring supporting characters; 4) continued development of the characters’ family and personal relationships; and 5) description of setting, geography, ecology, geology, and human and natural history.

I felt particularly moved when developing my characters to create them with differences, but each with a strong moral compass. Al is a student of his Apache Heritage, yet he is also an ordained deacon in the Catholic Church. Bren is a faithful Mormon. Manny is a Catholic, but in many ways has some of my own characteristics, such as his love of local history and his efforts to research everything. These three fully respect each other and consider each to be equally Christian. I hope to let the reader see that we can be different but still value the good in others.

In the end my desire is to create a story the reader will enjoy and characters with whom they can identify.

ME:  Which authors have influenced you the most in terms of Western fiction, and how?

VIRGIL:  The summer before I started high school, I found the full collection of Zane Gray westerns in the Miami Public Library and read every one of them. As my introduction to western fiction that event was very important.

Zane Grey(Zane Grey, author of such stories as Riders of the Purple Sage)

My favorite authors of all time were mystery writer Helen MacInnes, thriller writer Alistair MacLean, and Tony Hillerman. I also love the contemporary southwestern fiction of JA Jance and Michael McGarrity, although at times they are a little too edgy for me.

Helen MacInnes(Helen MacInnes, Scottish-American Espionage Novelist)

Alistair MacLean

(Alistair MacLean)


(J.A. Jance)

Michael McGarrity

(Michael McGarrity)

Without question, though, I think Hillerman touched my writing more than anyone else. Not only did I love his writing and the way he captured the world he wrote in, but I respected his actual life and the person he was. It must have been from his example that I found it comfortable writing in the vignette style.

Tony Hillerman(Tony Hillerman, his greatest influence)

ME:  Finally, please describe your favorite writing space (office, plateau, easy chair, whatever) in the voice of the tribal police officer, Allen Victor, from THE WHAM CURSE. (And I must have a picture.)


Mrs. Alexander had given Al a key to her murdered husband’s office, saying, “If you don’t mind, I’ll stay here on the porch swing. Take as much time as you wish looking at Virgil’s office, but I can’t face seeing it without him rattling around in there.”

As he entered the office, he stopped in shock. What a mess; I wonder if someone broke in and roughly searched the place. Piles of books, files, correspondence, bills, and even some kind of medication were heaped around the open laptop computer. There was a comfortable high backed armed chair at the desk, and the place barely had adequate light. How on earth did he create stories that tracked such order and detail in such a messy place? I think I’m going to have to move Mrs. Alexander to the top of the suspect list after seeing this.

(Ooh. I hope you don’t get into trouble for this, Virgil, with your wife.)

Virgil Looking for Cover(He doesn’t look worried, does he?)


(His office “sweet”…Al wasn’t lying)

You can buy Virgil’s books from these physical or online bookstores listed here on his website.

I’m very pleased to be interviewing my friend Lisa Alber next Wednesday regarding the debut of her mystery set in Ireland, her writing life, and other things.


Originally posted 2014-05-07 06:00:06.

“Monday Mystery” – THE BALI MYSTERY (Amelia Moore Detective Series)

Bali web

Linda Weaver Clarke describes her book’s genre as a “cozy mystery,” or, in her words:

“A G-rated story with no swearing or sex. It has many twists and turns and must have very likeable characters so that it can be turned into a series. A cozy mystery focuses on the plot and characters, and the main character is usually an intelligent woman.”

With that understood, let’s take a look at her latest:


Amelia Moore, the founder of the Moore Detective Agency, specializes in missing persons. Her cases have taken her to some very interesting places and put her in some dangerous situations, but she always solves the case. With the help of Rick Bonito, her business is flourishing.

When Mrs. Brody hires Amelia and Rick to find her missing brother, they find themselves in Bali, Indonesia. They are mystified why her brother quit his job, put his home up for sale, and ran off to this mysterious and exotic island without telling a soul.


Amelia narrowed her eyes and pursed her lips as she watched the hefty man walk out of her office. She was upset. He had demanded she drop her new case or she would be sorry. Yes, he had threatened her if she continued her search, but he did not know that his threat only encouraged her.

Amelia Moore, the founder of the Moore Detective Agency, was in her thirties and had a positive outlook on life. She had short honey brown hair that framed her face and complemented her hazel eyes. Amelia was confident, stubborn, and spunky. She took her job seriously and enjoyed her work. She always chose cases that made a positive difference in people’s lives. This assignment, however, was unusual.


Linda Weaver Clarke travels throughout the United States, teaching and encouraging people to write their family history and autobiography. She is the author of several historical sweet romances, a mystery/adventure series, a new cozy mystery series, and two non-fiction books.

Linda Weaver ClarkeYou can purchase THE BALI MYSTERY or any of her other books from her website.

Originally posted 2014-04-21 06:00:11.