Author Interview with Wendy Rich Stetson for Hometown

Please join me in welcoming author Wendy Rich Stetson. Look no further than Hometown for a delightful, sweet romance.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Title: Hometown

Author: Wendy Rich Stetson

Genre: Sweet Romance

BLURB:

When Tessa’s big-city plans take the A Train to disaster, she lands in her sleepy hometown, smack in the middle of the most unlikely love triangle ever to hit Pennsylvania’s Amish Country.

Hot-shot Dr. Richard Bruce is bound to Green Ridge by loyalty that runs deep. Deeper still is Jonas Rishel’s tie to the land and his family’s Amish community. Behind the wheel of a 1979 camper van, Tessa idles at a fork in the road. Will she cruise the superhighway to the future? Or take a slow trot to the past and a mysterious society she never dreamed she’d glimpse from the inside?

INTERVIEW:

What was the inspiration behind your latest release? 

Just out of acting school and twiddling my thumbs while I waited for the phone to ring, I saw an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show featuring romance writers.  “I could do that,” I thought, every bit as naïve as I was to think a starring role on Broadway would land on my doorstep, wrapped in shiny paper and tied with a satin bow.  Still, inspired by those Oprah writers with the often-heard advice to “write what I knew” I came up with a simple premise: what would happen if a girl moved back to her hometown and fell in love with an Amish guy.  Twenty years and endless edits later, Hometown is now in the hands of readers.

Do ideas for plot or characters appear first? 

Perhaps stemming from my work as an actor, I get most of my inspiration from situations.  Actors often use the phrase “what if” to connect to our roles and approach our acting work in a truthful, emotionally-centered way.  What if I was a young, headstrong woman in the time of the American Revolution, looking to find a husband among the hotheaded revolutionaries in New York City?  What if my uncle killed my father and married my mother…how would I feel and behave?  When I begin a book, I don’t think, “I know—I’ll write about a tall girl with curly red hair and impossibly high standards in men.”  I think, “What if I moved back to my hometown in central Pennsylvania and met a drop-dead handsome Amish guy at the farmer’s market?” and I let the story spring from there.  I like getting characters in trouble–that’s where the good stuff lies.

Have you ever traveled when researching information for a book? 

Since my hometown provided the inspiration for my book series, I didn’t have far to travel.  But I still did oodles of research.  I take the responsibility of writing about another culture very seriously.  When I first started working on Hometown, my only resources were books and the observations I made from interacting with the Amish in my town.  Now, many online sources offer details about all aspects of Amish life.  I have read many books, watched videos, read blogs, and written to other authors of Amish fiction for help.  It’s extremely important to me that I represent Amish life and culture as accurately and respectfully as I can, while also depicting the Amish as real people, not costumed characters.

When did you begin writing? 

I can’t remember when I didn’t write.  When I was a girl, I wrote fantasy stories, and as a teenager, I was an obsessive diarist.

How many hours do you dedicate each day towards writing? 

As a freelancer, my days are never the same. Sometimes I write 45 minutes, and sometimes I get a good four or five hours of writing before my brain turns to mush.

What has been your biggest challenge? 

Social media.  It can be such a great way to connect with other authors and readers, but it sure can be a time suck as well.

What does literary success mean to you?

A few weeks ago I sent a paperback copy of my book to a high school friend.  We had been in touch off and on over the years, but after chatting one day on Facebook, I asked if she liked sweet romance.  She said yes, and I just stuck a copy in the mail for old times’ sake.  A week or so later, she messaged that she had spent the whole day at the hospital while her husband had neck surgery, and that my book really helped her get through the rough tasks of waiting and caregiving.  That, to me, is the pinnacle of literary success.

What writing tips or marketing advice would you like to share

Write the story you want to read.  Don’t set out to please some ideal reader you’ve imagined in your head.  Tell a tale that thrills and delights you, and you’ll find no end of inspiration.

Which authors inspire you?

Diana Gabaldon is a tremendous inspiration.  Her depth of character, emotion, and detailed research make me drool.  Amish romance writers Kelly Irvin and Patricia Johns are not only wonderful people, but lovely writers.  And indy romcom writer Ellyn Oaksmith could teach a master class in comedy.

What project are you currently working on? 

I’m so excited to be working on the second book in the Hearts of the Ridge Series, Heartsong Hills.  Jonas Rishel, the Amish carpenter who is the hero of Hometown, has a sister who in book one is angry and bitter after suffering great loss in her life. Book two places her in the spotlight, giving her a story full of music, whimsy, and unlikely love.

AUTHOR BIO:

Wendy Rich Stetson is a New York City girl who still considers the Central Pennsylvania countryside to be her home.  She grew up road tripping in a 1979 VW camper van, and she keeps a running list of favorite roadside attractions from coast to coast.  Now an author of sweet, small-town romance, Wendy is no stranger to storytelling.  She’s a Broadway and television actress, an audiobook narrator, and a mom who likes nothing more than collaborating on children’s books with her teenage artist daughter.  Wendy lives in Upper Manhattan with her family of three and rambunctious Maine Coon kitty.  Follow Wendy’s journey at www.wendyrichstetson.com

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:

Website: http://wendyrichstetson.com/

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/StetsonRiches

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/wendyrichstetson_author/?hl=en

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/wendy_stetson/_saved/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Wendy-Rich-Stetson/e/B097QBJZCC/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58504083-hometown?from_search=true&from_srp=true&qid=Svcjev2iMD&rank=1

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B097NVNFDF/

Barnes and Noble

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/hometown-wendy-rich-stetson/1139719240

Apple

https://books.apple.com/us/book/hometown/id1573329404

Kobo

https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/hometown-11

Google Play

Universal Book Link https://books2read.com/u/4Xr70g

Book in the Spotlight, Peculiar Activities by Mark Edward Jones

Please join me in welcoming author Mark Edward Jones. Peculiar Activities looks like a great option for anyone looking for a new mystery to read.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Title: Peculiar Activities

Author: Mark Edward Jones

Genre: Mystery

BLURB:

Henry Ike Pierce is a junior detective in Alexandria, Virginia, newly hired to reassess cold-case killings. On the third day of his new job, a body appears in a local park. The corpse’s desecration is like slayings from over two decades ago, and his boss assigns Henry to his first investigation. He must uncover the present-day killer while his boss pushes him to resolve crimes from the past. Rumors point to a killer called ‘the hooded one.’ 

Henry seeks a killer within a community of rival ethnic groups, refugees from the 1990s Balkan wars. The recent murder in the park triggers the old passions, leading again to central Europe and a tangle of new intrigue. Money can smooth old hurts, manipulate feelings, and alter allegiances, but finding the guilty is a hopeless task if discoveries are unwelcome.

Distrust, betrayals, conspiracies–the young man from western Virginia’s coal country discovers that ‘trust’ has a flexible definition.

AUTHOR BIO:

Mark retired in 2017 after thirty-three years working in higher education finance and wanted to try writing again. The Wild Rose Press released Peculiar Activities on October 6, 2021, the first book in the Detective Henry Ike Pierce series. This manuscript won first place in the mystery category of the 2019 Oklahoma Writers Federation annual contest.

He signed a contract for the second in this series called Shadowed Souls, currently in an editing phase with a release date in the late summer of 2022.

Mark is one of thirteen authors bringing together thirteen mystery/suspense/horror stories for a Friday the 13th series to be released on May 13, 2022. Mark’s short story is A Gentleman from the Darkness.

His flash fiction piece called “Alone in Warsaw” was published in the Autumn 2019 edition of the U.K. publication, Painted Words.

Mark grew up in Duncan, Oklahoma, then attended the University of Oklahoma, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science and public administration.

He and his wife have three grown children and celebrated their fortieth anniversary in November 2021.

Mystery/suspense/international intrigue novels are his favorite reads, and he’s found a niche with medieval murder mysteries, noting it’s interesting to see the lifestyles from other eras and how crimes were solved.

His favorite music includes Elvis, Chicago, Earth, Wind & Fire, and Boz Scaggs (among many others).

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:

Website: https://mejbooksllc.com

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mejbooksllc

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/markjones_author/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/mejbooksllc/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Mark-Edward-Jones/e/B08PW43DZ1?ref=nav_ya_signin&qid=1621518619&sr=8-1&

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16577227.Mark_Edward_Jones

PURCHASE LINKS:

https://books2read.com/MEJBOOKS

Guest Post with Steven J. Kolbe, Author of How Everything Turns Away

Please join me in welcoming author Steven J. Kolbe. Steven is joining us today to share some insight on choosing the murder victim for a mystery novel. Be sure to check out his new release, How Everything Turns Away.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Title: How Everything Turns Away

Author: Steven J. Kolbe

Genre: Mystery

BLURB:

In the suburbs of Chicago, everyone’s a suspect.

GUEST POST: How to Make a Murder Victim

It can be easy to short-change the murder victim. For a forensic-leaning writer, the victim can become just a body covered in clues. For a crime writer, the victim might be someone in the wrong place at the wrong time. The genre I find myself most drawn to is the straight-forward detective story with a healthy splash of suspense. Even this genre, however, is ripe for weak victims, ones who provide a dose of sympathy or a solid motive but not much else. So let’s look at a few classic victims and see what tips we can glean.

The Hated Victim: Samuel Edward Ratchett (aka Cassetti) from Murder on the Orient Express. Here is a book I love to teach because you really get to see how wrong almost every reader is. What makes Ratchett a great victim is that he’s a jerk. As more is revealed, we find out that not only do the other passengers dislike and distrust Ratchett, they increasingly have legitimate reasons to wish him dead. This creates numerous valid murder suspects, enough to keep this reader guessing until the last reveal. A contemporary example that I am enjoying is The Afterparty streaming now on Apple TV. Also, see The Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz.

The Guilty Victim: Everyone from And Then There Were None. This might be the greatest mystery novel of all time. Again Agatha Christie flexes her plot-muscles by weaving a series of murders so intricate they literally require a denouement explanation to understand what happened and why.

Plot: After eight guests arrive to a remote island, they meet a cook and housemaid, both of whom explain that the host, U. N. Nowen, will arrive later. One of the guests, Anthony James Marston suggests that the host, whom none of them know personally, is likely a play on the word, “Unknown.” Immediately after making this connection, he dies of cyanide poisoning. Slowly, the guests are picked off one by one, their deaths apparent payback for some crime in their past—but who is the killer? Will the guests be able to figure out who the killer before there’s no one left? Some contemporary examples are The Guest List by Lucy Foley and Only Murders in the Building on Hulu.

The Secret Victim: Elias Openshaw from “The Five Orange Pips” by Sir Conan Arthur Doyle. Secret societies, or at the very least mysterious, manipulative ones, were a favorite of Doyle’s. Here Openshaw is murdered for his involvement with an anti-Reconstructionist society from the American South. After he leaves, the secret society falls to ruin. I’ll let you learn about it yourself and the significance of the five orange pips, which hold meaning to the victim but not, initially, to the detectives. Doyle has a similar treatment of the early Mormon church in A Study in Scarlet. Contemporary examples include The Lovebirds, a romantic-comedy mystery that takes place in New Orleans. Also see the novels, The Feral Detective by Jonathan Lethem and, somewhat less contemporary, The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon.

The Innocent Victim: The Clutter Family from In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. As a resident of southwest Kansas (I actually teach about a mile from the Clutter house at the high school Nancy Clutter attended), I had to include this family. In real-life, sometimes a victim is just that. They didn’t do anything to explain or deserve their fate. While this is often the case, it doesn’t always make for a satisfying story. If there’s only one motive for killing them, then there can only be so many suspects. In the real-life case, Bobby Rupp, Nancy’s boyfriend, was suspected for some time, but once exonerated, he didn’t leave anyone else in the community to suspect—and in fact the killers weren’t locals. If you spend the time to make them sufficiently sympathetic, however, the resolution can be particularly satisfying. A contemporary example is Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara, which investigates rampant crime and deplorable living conditions in the bastis of India. Also see Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the F.B.I.by David Grann.

This is by no means exhaustive, but hopefully it can help you get started on creating a victim of your own!

AUTHOR BIO:

Steven studied at NOCCA and LSU in Louisiana before earning his undergraduate and graduate degrees in English from Kansas State University. He started his writing career as a lowly student worker for the prestigious literary journal The Southern Review. If you received a formal rejection letter in the mid-2000s, he probably sealed the envelope. He has published fiction, poetry, and nonfiction in various newspapers, magazines, and journals since that time.

He lives in Southwest Kansas with his wife and three children. His debut novel How Everything Turns Away is available from The Wild Rose Press.

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:

Website: www.stevenjkolbe.com

Twitter: @KolbeSteven

Instagram: @stevenjkolbe

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Steven-J.-Kolbe/e/B098R29ML8?ref=dbs_m_mng_rwt_byln

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/21665172.Steven_J_Kolbe

PURCHASE LINKS:

Barnes and Noble

Amazon

Book in the Spotlight: A Gem of a Murder, by Mariah Lynne

Please join me in welcoming author Mariah Lynne. A Gem of a Murder is in the spotlight today!

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Title: A Gem of A Murder –A Seabliss Island Mystery

Author: Mariah Lynne

Genre: Cozy mystery with a touch of the paranormal

BLURB:

A sleepy Florida Gulf Coast Beach town suddenly comes alive as two best friends, local merchant Mariah Linley and island psychic Moonbeam find themselves in the middle of some pretty strange business after Mariah discovers their friend, a local sea captain, dead.

 As events begin to unfold, the two novice sleuths are drawn into a web of murder, deception, and drugs that stretches as far west as Mexico and as far south as the Keys.

Loaded with unique characters doing surprising things, A Gem of a Murder is a cozy mystery that is set in 1986 and laced with a little romance. With a backdrop of stunning locations, A Gem of a Murder will take you on a memorable vacation without ever leaving home!

So grab your sunscreen and park that imaginary lounge chair in the sand under some swaying palm trees, but all the while, watch your back. There’s a murderer on the loose!

AUTHOR BIO:

I was born in New Jersey. My father was an Italian immigrant who taught Latin and Classical Italian at a small local college before opening his own business, an independent print shop. My mother loved to help people and volunteered at our church and with charitable groups. She was a talented lace maker and loved to crochet and knit; her father, also from Italy, was a custom furrier and tailor for some of the most affluent residents of our community. Unfortunately I didn’t inherit any of those wonderful talents since I’m not fluent in a foreign language and am barely able to sew on a button but one thing I did inherit from my parents especially my father was the love of a good story. feel-good stories of dreams, family, and romance.

I am a graduate of Syracuse University and reside on a beautiful Southwest Florida Gulf Coast island. My island lifestyle serves as the backdrop for all of my stories whether romance or cozy mystery. Before writing fiction, I owned and operated a video store on the island like my character Mariah Linley and became very active in my national trade association meeting many movie stars and famous athletes. Although brief, these encounters made for some amazing memories.

I love to write and create memorable characters. Pets are my passion and I served on the board of directors for a county wide no-kill shelter. Because of this, all of my heroines have pets like Spike, Mariah’s German shepherd crossed with a teddy bear in “A Gem of a Murder.” When not writing, I still enjoy watching movies, travelling (even though we were stranded in beautiful Australia for eight days during March of 2020 because of the pandemic), swimming, and spending time with my husband Jerry.  

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:

Website: https://mariahlynne.com/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/MariahLynneAuthor

Pinterest: Mariah Lynne (mariahlynneauthor) – Profile | Pinterest

Twitter: @MariahLynn1

Blog: https://mariahlynneauthor.blogspot.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6526631.Mariah_Lynne?from_search=true&from_srp=true

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon

Read a few chapters FREE: Amazon

Book in the Spotlight: Let it Melt, by Margot Johnson

Please join me in welcoming author Margot Johnson. Let it Melt is an excellent choice for readers looking for a new, sweet romance to cozy up with.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Title: Let it Melt

Author: Margot Johnson

Genre: Sweet contemporary romance

BLURB:

How on earth did Jill, a single divorcee, land on a romantic Valentine’s Sweetheart Tour for couples? Worse, she’s paired with Jack, her daughter’s brash father-in-law, and everyone thinks he’s her valentine. Stranded in a Canadian prairie blizzard, how soon can she kiss this awkward evening goodbye?

Long divorced, Jack would love to charm Jill with his toned body and dynamic personality, but his wisecracks and obsession with fitness get in the way—especially when he nabs a post at the same school where she teaches.

Even the most romantic month of the year can’t melt their differences and sweeten Jill’s feelings….or can it?

AUTHOR BIO:

Margot Johnson writes feel-good stories of dreams, family, and romance.

She is the author of two sweet romance novels, LOVE TAKES FLIGHT and LOVE LEADS THE WAY, and two novellas, LET IT SNOWBALL and LET IT MELT. Her characters can’t possibly find their happy endings…or can they?

Before turning her focus to the fun writing life, Margot held leadership roles in human resources and communications. Her motto is “Dream big and work hard.”

When not writing, she loves to connect with family and friends, volunteer with SK Writers Guild, and walk at least 10,000 steps a day (except when it’s minus 40!)

Margot lives in the Canadian prairies with her amazing husband and adorable golden retriever.

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:

Website: margotjohnson.ca

Facebook: MargotJohnsonAuthor

Twitter: @AuthorMargot

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Kobo

BookBub

Goodreads