Reviews Published

Thursday, March 27, 2008

DEATH OF A BAWDY BELLE - coming out soon

Drinking a virtual cup of hot chocolate with us today is M. E. KEMP, author of DEATH OF A BAWDY BELLE.

Q. Marilyn, tell us why you used the famous Salem Witch Hunt time and place as the setting for your novel.

A. Actually, I didn’t choose Salem 1692 as my time; it came chronologically in my historical mystery series featuring two nosy Puritans. How could I not work Salem in there, though? It was a defining moment in American history. We made a mistake there, admitted it and didn’t do it again, even though Europe kept on executing witches into the 18th century.

Q. Mmm, I must have Salem on my mind a lot, probably because it's such an important piece of our history and culture. Now, in your book, the amateur detective is a female. How did that go down with the public in the 1600s?

A. Strong women always have had power, even in the 17th c. Don’t forget Queen Elizabeth, who reigned earlier. She wasn’t exactly a sob sister. Widows especially had rights and could run their late husband’s business on their own. I made Hetty twice widowed – she has wealth and connections to high and low society. Even in the Victorian era, on the island of Nantucket women ran the business at home while their husbands spent years at sea hunting whales.

Q. As a female, Hetty draws clues from items such as the victim’s clothes, clues that have already been overlooked by (male) professionals. Can you give us such an example from “Death of a Bawdy Belle?”

A. One thing that hasn’t changed over the centuries; most men are clueless when it comes to women’s clothing. That’s part of my young minister Creasy’s charm; he’s clueless when it comes to women. In “Death of a Bawdy Belle” Hetty just looks at the clothing worn by the unknown murder victim and can tell what she was like. For instance, Arabella wears plain clothing over a lacy shift – either she’s hiding a secret life or she’s one of those loose Church of England people.... Her dress size is small, but her bust line shows she’s no child, as the Salem sheriff assumed.

Q. Your book must have called for extensive research. What’s your favorite medium: the Internet, the library, movies?

A. For research I rarely use the internet, and I never trust the movies for authentic detail. I have my own collection of Colonial history books; I prefer them for research. We picked them up wandering the streets of Boston, my husband and I, on vacation. My secret weapon is a marvelous lady named Alice Morse Earle, who wrote social histories at the turn of the last century. Because she was a women, writing about women’s daily lives, Mrs. Earle was neglected by male historians, who often copied her word-for-word without giving her credit. She is finally getting some recognition.

Q. How did you come up with the title for your book?

A. I wanted the series to follow the prior book, “Death of a Dutch Uncle,” in the same vein, so it’ll be “Death of...” for the rest of the series. Bawdy Belle describes my victim, Arabella, to a tee. She’s a very naughty lady.

Q. Ooo, naughty how? No, don't tell us, we'll read the book. :-) Where can we buy it?

A. You can buy DEATH OF A BAWDY BELLE at your local bookstore or at - it's scheduled for release at the end of the month (March 2008).

Q. Excellent! Before I read a book, I like to think about the author and the way in which the book was created, so could you describe your typical writing day for us?

A. I’m a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of writer. I don’t have a schedule.. I usually check my emails in the morning, though. I believe a writer should go out and experience life, not live in an ivory tower. Call me up for lunch and I’m outta here! Thank goodness the mystery has a certain structure of its own – plot, red herrings, detectives, etc. or I’d be the new James Joyce, forever meandering on about chicken livers. No, I don’t do structure very well.

Q. LOL, I hear you about James Joyce. Can you give us a teaser for your next book?

A. DEATH OF A DANCING MASTER, the next book in the series, is in the works. Like most of my plots, it comes out of a history book. Boston didn’t take kindly to dancing masters – the ministers and magistrates drove ‘em out of town. I took it to the next level. What if the Dancing Master was murdered and a young minister, who’d argued with him earlier, was found standing over the body? What if that dancing master turned out to be overly fond of the ladies he taught? No lack of suspects here.

That sounds awesome, Marilyn. Thank you for this interview, and we look forward to chatting with you again about your publicity plan and marketing tips.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Grey’s Anatomy

OK, so would anybody please tell me why we all watch Grey’s Anatomy? Don’t we have books to write, jobs to do, relationship to nurture?

As a writer, I appreciate that the characters are immediately likeable. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be friends with George?

The plot, however, is far from the nail-biting Prison Break or the mysterious LOST. And the subject matter is, let’s face it, grim. Somebody dies in almost every episode, we get exposed to blood and guts and vomit.

So where is the hook? (And the answer is not “Because McDreamy is cute.”)

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

In the Arms of the Enemy

Today, we're hosting Patricia A. Guthrie on her around-the-world virtual book tour. Patricia, welcome to New Zealand. Your book, "In the Arms of the Enemy" is a murder mystery. What sub-genre would you classify it under: cozy, thriller, romantic suspense? Tell us why you chose this particular sub-genre.

This is a romantic suspense novel. I grew up on my mother's Agatha Christie series, and I've since developed a love for romance novels. It was just a matter of time that I fell in love with the combination of the two genres. The climax of one spurs on the climax of the other. Romantic Suspense is very popular in the U.S. I think I fell into it naturally. (And romance and mystery writers are fun to be around. No kidding.)

I love Agatha Christie and I agree: romance and mystery writers are wonderful people. Now, make us all want to read your book.

I'll try my best.

Light Sword PublishingPresents: In the Arms of the Enemy

By: Patricia A. Guthrie




When the death of a racing stable's prize horse and his trainer is blamed on the stable's owner; his son, Adam Blakely, goes undercover convinced that the trainer's partner, Maggie McGregor is the killer. Determined to leave the tumultuous world of horse racing, Maggie returns home to try and find peace. When a handsome horse owner moves his horse into her father's boarding stable and asks Maggie to train his horse, family finances dictate that Maggie accept--and that's when the accidents begin. Drowning in deception and lies, Maggie and Adam search for a killer and uncover an insurance scam so insidious, it threatens to rock a horse racing empire and bring the killer to their doorstep. They need to learn to:Keep your friends close; but your enemies closer.

Review magazine "Affaire de Coeur" says, "With a strong mystery and a sizzling romance, Ms. Guthrie captivates readers from the start. This is an enjoyable thriller with a plot that will keep you guessing until the climactic end." Affaire de Coeur gives In the Arms of the Enemy" five stars.

Mmmm. So now you should provide information on where to buy it :-)... .

In the Arms of the Enemy is available online at:,, www.b& (Barnes and Noble),, (publisher).

What made you decide to write about the horse-racing world?

I think the characters of the horses may be your main enticement to watch horses perform whether it's at a racetrack, show ring or running in the pasture. They're magnificent and graceful creatures with amazing personalities.

The racetrack is filled with colorful characters. It's an exciting place full of diversity Good people, bad people, people who come to watch, people who come to bet and people who come to make a quick buck off the backs of the vulnerable. The fictional track of Kalian Downs is taken from my imagery of Arlington Park Race Track in Illinois, a lovely track. But only the prologue actually takes place on the race track. The rest of the story takes place in Cullum McGregor's (that's heroine Maggie's dad) boarding stable, there's also an inn by Lake Michigan and on a yacht in a yacht club on Lake Michigan.

Sounds better and better. Now, what books or courses would you recommend for somebody just starting out on the novel-writing journey?

The first thing to know is this is not an "easy" profession. Most writers never get published, let alone make it into the big time. Knowing that, how badly do you want to write? It's like anything else that's truly worth your time and dedication. You read, you write, you re-write, then you re-write some more. You read craft books and fiction by many authors. You commit time to your journey and pick yourself up when you stumble and fall. There will be many potholes in the way. So, get on your iron-toed shoes. I have a pair, half-worn out. And lots of chocolate. That's a standard industry joke. At least among women writers.

You might ask yourself, do you love to tell a story? If the answer is yes, then the journey is really worth it.

I've never taken an official "course" in writing. I've done it the hard way, by trial, error, workshops, reading craft books, sending out manuscripts and getting rejected, then going back and rewriting. I belong to the Romance Writers of America (RWA) and take many online workshops sponsored by individual chapters. I belong to Sisters of Crime ( a great group for mystery writers) I also have found some great critique partners along the way.

Books: Chris Vogler's A writer's Journey, Donald Maas Writing the Breakout Novel Debra Dixon GMC: Goal, Motivation and Conflict, Chicago Manual of Style, Stephen King On Writing, Janet Evanovich How I write, Renni Browne and Dave King's Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, and Dwight V. Swain's Techniques of the Selling Writer.

I have the Writer's Digest collection of everything you need to know about solving crimes. Books on forensics, books on getting into the mind of killers, (See Anne Rules' Deliberate Stranger, the book about the serial killer, Ted Bundy.)

But, check on line and on some on-line blogs by writers who write in the same genre. You might discover a wonderful collection of reference material. I'm not making a plug, but one of the best reference lists is in I'm constantly looking up something on her list.

You also need: a good thesauraus, a good dictionary and a good grammar book.

What do you hope to get out of virtual book tours, such as this one?

Well, of course book sales. Every author and her publisher wants and needs that to survive.. Getting our names out to as many people as possible. I'd like readers to remember me as a serious author sprinkled with a sense of humor.

The story of In the Arms of the Enemy is a topic that's seared my soul for a long time. The book is dedicated to horses lost to man's greed and inhumanity and to those humanitarians whose mission is to save and protect them.

And a very worthy cause it is! I hope you get lots of publicity and lots of book sales. Are you doing a "real life" book tour or a book signing too?

I'm doing book signings at local Barnes and Nobles, Borders and some independent book stores. I've held book signings in horse barns during veterinarian days and at a dog obedience seminar. I love going out, meeting and talking to people. I've haunted conventions and seminars. I was at the Texas Book Festival and the Essence of Motown with my publisher. I've been at several seminars and workshops with my Chicago chapter of Sisters in Crime, and my RWA chapter holds workshops with some dynamite instructors.

Gosh, do you have time for anything else? Tell us who you are when you're not a writer.

I have three feisty collies and a quarter horse who keep me busy. My dogs have decided they want to be my "ghost writers" and help me at every given opportunity. Usually sitting on my feet. Jackson (four-year-old gray horse) doesn't sit on my feet, but he does have a rather inquisitive personality. He's the only horse I've ever met who's nosed through a magazine cover to cover. No explaining that one.

I read as much as I can (when I can get the time) and love to watch British mysteries (Poirot, Miss Marple, Midsommer Murders, Sherlock Holmes etc).

Lord of the Rings is my favorite movie, filmed in your beautiful New Zealand. You live in a lovely country.

Indeed. Thank you so much for being with us today. For much more information about Patricia Guthrie and In the Arms of the Enemy, visit her virtual book tour site -

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Carmelo Rafala escapes velocity

With Issue 2 of Escape Velocity on the stands, it's time to talk to one of its contributors. Today, drinking a virtual glass of champagne with me, is Carmelo Rafala.

1. Your story, "Mother Tongue" was published in Escape Velocity. Quick, make us want to read it!
On a mission to tame a new world, man will turn against man, and even mother nature herself will have her say.

2. Who is your favourite SF/F mainstream author, and why?
I really enjoy the short works of JG Ballard. He is really a surrealist when it comes to writing science fiction. There are always things left unsaid and questions that need answers, and a simple sense of the bizarre. However, the brilliant thing about Ballard is that these questions never make you feel like you've missed something, nor do they detract from enjoying the story.

3. What is your personal definition of SF?
Science fiction to me is not simply ray guns and exploding space ships, although that is obviously a part of it. It is a medium from which to see ourselves as well, to gain distance from the human condition in order to see it more clearly. That would be my personal definition, or part of it.

4. I love that: gain distance to see more clearly. Yes. Now share something personal with us.
I'm an obsessive daydreamer. Even when I am working, my brain goes out of its way to find a moment to wander off somewhere. It's embarrassing when it happens in the middle of a conversation but it does. My friend said my eyes literally glaze over. On a particular day I was in a heated discussion and suddenly I "fazed" out. My friend later told me he was taking bets as to how long it would take for the other person to realise I was no longer "there". I'm terrible!

5. Do a quick plug for Escape Velocity.
Escape to new worlds. Escape Velocity!