Susan Whitfield

Award-winning, multi-genre author Susan Whitfield is the author of five published mysteries and Killer Recipes, a real cookbook with mysterious names featuring recipes from mystery writers across the country. Her first women’s fiction novel, Slightly Cracked, was published in 2012.

Please tell everyone a little about yourself, Susan.

SusanWhitfieldSusan: A life-long native of North Carolina, I’ve lived in both the eastern and western parts of the state. I taught high school English for thirteen years before moving in high school administration for the remainder of my career. I retired and began my second career, writing. I have five published mystery novels: Genesis Beach, set along NC’s Crystal Coast;  Just North of Luck, set in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Hell Swamp, set along Black River in Pender County, Sin Creek in Wilmington, and Sticking Point in Beaufort. I’m a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Coastal Carolina Mystery Writers, and North Carolina Writers Network. My husband and I live in Wayne County just a few miles from our two sons and their families.

Briefly tell us about your latest book. Is it part of a series or stand-alone?

slightlycrackedSusan: I’ve been writing the Logan Hunter Mysteries, publishing the first novel back in 2007. As much as I have loved Logan, I knew as an author I wanted to write other stories and perhaps other genres. When I wrote Slightly Cracked, women’s fiction, I knew I wanted to write more in that genre, so I ended the Logan Hunter Mysteries with Sticking Point, published in February of this year. I think I left Logan in a good place after putting her through some horrible ordeals in Genesis Beach, Just North of Luck, Hell Swamp, and especially Sin Creek. While I did enjoy the series, I also have a fondness for stand-alones like Slightly Cracked. I am currently trying my hand at historical fiction. More on that later.

What’s the hook for the book?

Susan: Tying this into the last question, in Sticking Point, Logan investigates the death of a fifteen-year-old bully whose death was ruled natural causes.

Who’s the most unusual/most likeable character?

sticking pointSusan: In Sticking Point, Logan must work with another investigator whom she thinks she despises. They are uncomfortable and it shows, but as the investigations rolls along, they begin to understand and appreciate how the tragic past has affected each of them. My favorite character in this book is the bed and breakfast owner, a British lady with strict rules and secrets of her own, but the novel moves from a mystery into a love story that I’m quite proud to have written.

Do you have specific techniques to help you maintain the course of the plot?

Susan: I hate outlines so I start without one and then at some point I reach a roadblock and build an outline to get me straightened out. As much as I hate them, I have to admit they’ve fixed a multitude of problems for me.

Do you have a specific writing style? Preferred POV?

Susan: I call my own writing “elementary” because I don’t use big words. It’s just easy everyday writing. I prefer first person but I wrote the women’s fiction in third person because it’s important for the reader to get into the heads of four characters.

How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?

Susan: I grew up in North Carolina and have lived here all my life. It makes sense to set the books here. While I don’t exaggerate my Southern background, I try to use local and regional dialects and showcase different areas of the state. Setting is almost always a feature in my books.

Share the best review (or a portion) that you’ve ever had.


“Sin Creek by Susan Whitfield, is an eye-opener and a heart-breaker, but with the sweetest redeeming ending.

Having had a long-standing friendship with a detective, when reading Sin Creek, I felt a sense of déjà vu about events I know to be true. These foul crimes do exist and are proliferating all over the world, both promoted by and brought to law enforcement attention by the Internet. Whitfield portrays the underpinnings of one man’s vile world of pornography with researched accuracy.

Though this story is fiction, the very same types of exploitation continue to happen and escalate. If you never understood how lewd and dangerous the world of porn is, read Sin Creek. It’s fiction but true to life. It’ll make you shudder.”

What are your current projects?

Susan: I am currently writing an historical mystery, titled Sprig of Broom, about an ancestor who was a Knight of the Bath. This is by far the most challenging project I’ve ever done because I’m traveling back to medieval times. Research is on-going and I want to represent my ancestor as accurately as possible while filling in the gaps with fiction that seems to be true. It’s a slow process and I anticipate a lengthy amount of time before it’s complete.

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

Susan:  I blog at
My web site is
I’m also on Facebook and a member of Booktown at www.booktown.ning.

Thanks for joining us today, Susan.

Susan: Thank you for the interview.

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SittieCates has been writing for more than ten years. She has covered topics about health, travel, recipes, writing, family, children and many more.  The author of Sleepyhead? NOT!, 13th Breath: A Collection of Poetry and Prose and Are You There, God? It’s Me, Kaitlyn Zamorra, Smiling at You,  she is currently working as a freelance writer.

Please tell everyone a little about yourself, Cates.

Cates photo2SittieCates: SittieCates is my virtual pseudonym. My real name is Jacqueline, which I mostly prefer my family, old friends and relatives to use. Most of my friends call me Cates. Online, a lot of people call me Sittie. I prefer having my pseudonym, “SittieCates”, written without a space to denote oneness or balance.

I have worked for traditional publishing firms as a Writer and Editor. I also taught English to Filipinos at a local school. I’ve handled students from Grades 3 up to 4th year High School. I was the Guidance Counselor and the Head of the English Department. Aside from those jobs I had at that school, I was also the adviser for the school publication and was in charge of the Theatre Guild.

After a few years, I became an ESL teacher for Koreans. Then, I had an offer at another publishing firm so I went back to writing and editing.

In between those full-time jobs, I tried to squeeze in time to engage in writing the stories that I love; not the articles that I usually spin at work. I’ve managed to publish a poem, a few short stories for kids and some articles in other local magazines published by other publishing firms. While my aim was to write about topics I really love in snippets of time available, I have to admit that there were lots of times when I was too tired to engage in that because of my hectic work schedules. You see, whenever I came home, all I wanted to do was collapse on my bed and pray that I would have a restful sleep so I could function well the next day.

When did the writing bug bite?

SittieCates: I’ve always wanted to write. My parents and siblings would scold me because I would write everywhere. They particularly hated it when I would write on the walls. It looked really messy, but all those scribbles were, in a way, special, because they held dozens of stories only I could understand.

I wrote my very first “nearly legible and more understandable” story when I was in kindergarten. It was part of an assignment. There was a blank page for that in the book, and we were tasked to write a story. We were encouraged to draw the characters, too.

So, I peppered the page with stick figures, the only drawings I could muster. J And I wrote a very, very short story about three girls who always wanted to sing. And when I say short, I really mean short because I only used a few sentences. The title was written as one word; it included all three names of the little girls in the story.

What particular genre/s do you prefer?

SittieCates: For the genre, I seem to gravitate more towards children’s stories. I published two ebooks for kids. One is Sleepyhead? NOT! and the other is Are You There, God? It’s Me, Kaitlyn Zamorra, Smiling at You. I have a third one that’s already with my illustrator. It’s about learning colors. It’s perfect for kids aged 3 to 5, but younger and older ones up to 8 would also love it.

I also love poetry. I’ve compiled a few of my poems and published them together with some essays in my ebook, 13th Breath: A Collection of Poetry & Prose. The ebook is inspirational and autobiographical. If you read it, you’ll get to know a few things about me. I’ve created an ebook trailer for this at: One of my favorite poetry lines that I’ve written in the ebook includes this one: “In the evenings when the wind speaks softly in my ear… When the stars give out a shine so enchantingly clear… When the soft beams of moonlight leave a trail of shadows in sight… I listen to the sweet, melodious sound of your voice at night.”

What other genre/s are you interested in venturing in?

SittieCates: I have a novel. Currently, I’m polishing that one. It’s my first novel and it’s a romance story, but there’s a little bit of twist there. J I’ll just announce that when it’s ready.

When you started writing, what goals did you want to accomplish? Is there a message you want readers to grasp?

SittieCates: That’s a good question, Shelagh. When I started writing, just like most authors, I wanted to share my works with a lot of readers. I wanted my works to be read and, hopefully, bring something helpful, amusing or inspiring to the readers – whether the story is for kids or for grown-ups. I truly wanted to give my readers that experience. Even though they may not always have a smile on their faces after reading what I’ve written, I wanted them to feel satisfied or complete, with nary a nagging and confusing thought bothering them afterwards when they close the book.

How do you develop characters?

SittieCates: I’m a people watcher. I observe people of different ages, professions, etc. I’ve been doing that since I was like 6 or 7 years old. It was just like a game before.

People may think I’m naturally talkative. But I’m only like that online. In person, I’m often what you may refer to as “unusually quiet”, especially when there are so many people around. It’s not that I’m a snob, but I merely prefer to observe people and things around me. That is if my nose isn’t buried in a book.

Often, I listen to how people talk. I take note of how they carry themselves, what clothes they prefer to wear, their mannerisms and other things. I also try to feel the underlying messages that their statements try not to reveal because, as I’ve observed, there are some who would tell you one thing but mean another thing, and I could somehow feel and notice that even if they try really hard to keep that to themselves.

It’s amusing to observe people because I feel that by doing this, I would be able to create the possible lead characters and antagonists of the story, sort of like getting inside their heads and seeing how they think. In real life, I try to capture all that. I try to incorporate these things in my stories so it would adopt a “real” atmosphere, especially in my upcoming novel. (Other character sketches I’ve had are kept in a notebook and I’ll be using those next time.)

What about the setting?

SittieCates: When I created the story setting for my upcoming romance novel, Bookworm, I had to struggle for awhile. I was trying to decide if a serious mood would be best or not. With regards to where and what time the story would take place, I chose what I knew, what I was familiar with, and injected that in the novel. Hopefully, the readers would love it.

Do you have a specific writing style? Preferred POV?

SittieCates: For most of the articles I’ve written, I would say that I’d go for the first-person POV.

But with stories, I try to experiment. I used both the first-person and third-person POV for my stories for kids. Sleepyhead? Not! was written using the third-person POV while Are You There, God? It’s Me, Kaitlyn Zamorra, Smiling at You used the first person.

However, for my upcoming novel, things are totally different. It’s not going to use any of the POVs normally used in writing novels. I wanted to try something else. So, I decided to use a different approach, which you’ll all see when my novel will be published. And I sincerely hope you would all wait for that.

How does your environment or immediate circle of friends, family and colleagues color your writing?

SittieCates: I find that a part of me seems to come out – regardless of whatever I create (poems, songs, articles, stories, etc.). It may be about the people I’ve met, the experiences I’ve had or the experiences that I knew someone had.

Sometimes, I find that helpful. Other times, no, because when I’m faced with a certain character, and I see that character as someone I know, it wouldn’t help the tale at all, especially if something happens in the story. What I mean is that being the real person that that character is, when he or she is faced with a dilemma, obviously, he or she would do the same thing that his or her character’s “real” counterpart would do. When that happens, all creative juices would be blocked, and that wouldn’t contribute well to the story because I wouldn’t know what else to write. As you can see, for me, when that story character thinks, feels and behaves like the real-life counterpart, that’s the end of the story. You can’t move past that because you would say that the real person wouldn’t behave, feel or think as such. So, there’s no more ideas coming in. You’re blocked! I’ve encountered that when I was writing the first few drafts of Bookworm. It was really hard to move beyond that. So, I changed the story a bit, and tried to see a story character as not being totally similar to a real-life counterpart.

Share the best review (or a portion) that you’ve had.

13th_Breath_Book_Cover_1563x2500SittieCates: Delighted to do so, Shelagh! Some of the links for the book reviews I’ve received for 13th Breath: A Collection of Poetry & Prose” and “Sleepyhead? NOT! are at the tab marked as “Book Reviews Written by Others for My Works” at my two blogs.

I also loved this one that was posted on a retail site. It was for one of my ebooks for kids, Are You There, God? It’s Me, Kaitlyn Zamorra, Smiling at You. It reads:

“A wonderful and delightful story, adorably illustrated, about a little girl’s faith and innocence as she starts understanding about change and learning to love her baby brother. Well done! Five stars all the way (the stars seem to be missing on this review). My child loved it, too!” ~ Patrick Heffernan, Author of Greywalker, a novel

Could you tell us more about your current book bundle promo for kids?

SittieCates: I’d love to, Shelagh!

The Sittie Case Book Bundle_SittieCatesAs I’ve mentioned earlier, I have published two ebooks for kids that are up at Amazon (at and other retailers, priced and sold individually. These two are included in a book bundle at The bundle, Sittie CASE, is offered at a very, very low price until January 31, 2014 only.

To give interested readers an idea of the children’s stories included in the bundle, here are the descriptions for both:

Sleepyhead? NOT!
Mabel Robbins is a bright, sweet and cheerful kid who likes to play make-believe. She faces no trouble during the day. But when nighttime comes, her problem begins. She couldn’t sleep easily like the rest of her family. Thinking that she is different, she seeks help to correct her sleeping problem.

But nothing seems to go right!

Will Mabel Robbins be able to find the “right” way to sleep easily? Find out now at Sleepyhead? NOT!

Sleepyhead? NOT! children’s ebook trailer can be seen at YouTube.

Are You There, God? It’s Me, Kaitlyn Zamorra, Smiling at You
When Kaitlyn Zamorra learned to write letters to God from her parents, she started telling Him everything: the things that she likes and what she considers to be “no fun” at all. She also told God about a precious gift that was lots of fun. But then, something happened. Her source of happiness seemed like it was going to be taken away from her.

Will she be able to save something that gave her lots of happiness? Or will Kaitlyn soon realize what’s truly “lots of fun”?

Are You There, God? It’s Me, Kaitlyn Zamorra, Smiling at You Children’s ebook trailer is at YouTube.

While the denomination there is in Philippine Pesos, interested buyers can avail of it in dollars by choosing Paypal as a mode of payment. I would suggest that readers check the FAQ at the site to know more about the file reading formats before they purchase and download the bundle.

Since it’s my first time to have a book bundle, I thought of celebrating it while the promo was running. So, I created a worldwide event on Google Plus. But not everyone could join. So, I transferred the event to Facebook, invited some friends and encouraged them to invite others. The Facebook party, which I named, ♥ The Sittie CASE Book Bundle Party  has already started, and would end by January 31. Others can still join the event if they like, provided that they do so before the last day of January.

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

SittieCates: People can follow me in a number of ways:


My Blogs: and

Facebook Pages: and

Google Plus:



Thank you for joining us today, Cates.

SittieCates: Thank you so much, Shelagh! I really enjoyed the interview. All the best to you and your site! And happy holidays to everyone! J

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Lyn Miller Lacoursiere

Meet Lyn Miller Lacoursiere in her latest video and learn about her six novels in the mystery series, the Lindy Lewis Diaries.

The Lindy Lewis Diaries

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D.K. Christi Interview on Dames of Dialogue

On Wednesday, October 17th, Dames of Dialogue posted an interview with D. K. Christi. With kind permission, the interview is posted here:

Welcome to Dames of Dialogue, D.K. Tell us about your latest work, “Mother and the Class Reunion,” a short story in the international anthology, Forever Families, published by Mandinam Press and shortly available in ebook at

D. K. Christi: Recently, this favorite short story theme about a loving mom engineering a summer romance for her adult daughter was printed in the third of Mandinam Press’s Forever series: Forever Friends, Forever Travels and the recently released, Forever Families. All three anthologies are collections of international stories by authors from across the globe writing in every genre. It’s great company. “Mother and the Class Reunion” is loosely modeled after a personal experience with a twist.

Sounds like not only an interesting but fun read, D.K. Can you share a little bit about what you’re working on now or what’s coming next?

D. K. Christi: I have one manuscript waiting for approval with L & L Dreamspell, The Bamboo Ring, a story of exotic lands through the eyes of a woman in love. I also have a work in progress, Escape to Love, a period romance and adventure in the South from the Civil War era. It is based on a young soldier’s love triangle discovered after he escapes from the heinous Elvira prisoner of war camp in New York by organizing a tunnel crew of POWs. He returns to battle at the southern lines after many misadventures along the way and then back to his southern home after the war ends to face love lost and the challenges to rebuild the south and his own dreams.

Wow. Both sound intriguing. As a Southerner, I especially like the concept for Escape to Love. What is a typical writing day like for you?

D. K. Christi: There are few typical days. I write about four hours a day; however, it is split between short stories, novels and articles for the local Southwest Florida Spotlight , www. , a print and online news magazine. When I have a deadline, I am known to spend up to a week with only naps in order to finish a novel or a story. Nothing else gets done. I also write for and in addition to other freelance articles, grant writing and media releases.

I really wish I had more self-discipline and could devote more time to writing. I do enjoy reading your articles, D.K., and don’t know how you do all that you do. When you’re writing, who’s in control, you or the characters?

D. K. Christi: The characters tend to take control of the novel and their behaviors take on a life of their own. They may take the story in a different direction than planned. Neev became the heroine of Ghost Orchid; but she was not in the original story outline. Her birth and story came from the development of a back story for another main character. Neev’s physical attributes, intelligence and personality were born from the genes she inherited from the original, planned characters. She literally came to life between the covers of Ghost Orchid, a haunting story that rises in the mist of the haunting and exquisite Everglades.

Now, that’s interesting, especially since I really liked the character Neev. Who are your favorite authors, the ones you read when you should be doing something else? Why do they appeal to you?

D. K. Christi: I prefer historical literature, the complex and romantic novels of the 19thcentury. They appeal to me because they tell so much about the world at that time and how the romantic heart fit in that environment. It is a romantic though difficult era in which to live; but the wealthy class had leisurely comforts and occupations that make today’s technological existence seem cold and distant in comparison. Human relationships at that time are infinitely interesting and entertaining, shedding so much light on the human condition.

Oh, I agree. Promotion is a big — and usually the most hated — part of being a writer. Can you share a little bit about how you promote?

D. K. Christi: My most successful promotions are talks at organizations about the sex, myth and magic of the ghost orchid. The interest generated leads to book sales. The pre-publicity also generates sales and more live engagements. I love public speaking and gain energy from an enthused audience. My talks are generally a bit interactive. I would enjoy expanding public performances.

I’ve found it not only makes speaking easier but is more fun when there is interaction with the audience. Who or what has been the biggest influence in your writing career and why?

D. K. Christi: My muse is a person I loved with all my heart and soul at one time but who became more of a ghost as time went by, still reading my writing and encouraging me to continue but not part of my real life. My best writing was under his influence and incorporated many of his suggestions. I often thought we should co-author, but it never quite happened. Without my muse, my writing is more essays and less romantic. My dad wrote stories for my son. He played classical and honky tonk piano and wrote music and poetry. He encouraged my writing. He died young; I had just begun writing my first novel, Arirang: The Bamboo Connection.

It’s sad your dad didn’t live to see you published. I’m sure he would have been so proud. What do you consider the single most satisfying aspect of being a writer?

D. K. Christi: Sharing my writing with someone who enjoys the story and wants more is quite satisfying. I also like the chance to create – to bring a story to life from words alone. I like being able to take the thoughts in my mind and put them on paper. That process seems to set me free. I am quite introspective with a mind that’s analyzing life all the time. Moving some thoughts to paper opens space. As a photographer uses a camera to capture a picture, I use words.

Love that answer. Who were your favorite authors as a child? Have they influenced your writing career in any way?

D. K. Christi: Grace Livingston Hill was the most influential in my young life. Her stories of sweet young Christian girls whose moral perfection led them into the arms of their prince charming for happiness ever after – that was what I wanted for my life. I thought if I could become an author, that would lead to that conclusion. Instead, I believe Humpty Dumpty seems more my story, often broken and never quite put back together again.

I think a great many of us fall under the Humpty Dumpty category, D.K. Where do you find inspiration for your writing?

D. K. Christi: Emotions are an integral part of existence: love, hate, joy, depression and more affect how life is felt and lived. My inspiration comes from events and thoughts that become bigger in my mind; they take on lives and emotions of their own. An example is the simple blooming of a rare and endangered ghost orchid at Corkscrew Swamp on my birthday that inspired my mystery novel, Ghost Orchid. To anyone else, it was a flower that opened and was beautiful. For me, it is a perpetual gift on my birthday that encompasses many stories from all those who discover this exquisite flower for themselves. People travel on quests from around the world just to see the ghost orchid that only grows in Cuba and the Everglades.

I never knew of its existence until your book and was quite taken with not only the story you told but the ghost orchid itself. What are major themes or motifs in your work? Do your readers ever surprise you by seeing something else in your stories than you think you wrote?

D. K. Christi: editors beautifully captured the themes: “Themes of friendship surviving tragedy; love conquering adversity and the triumph of the human spirit over the hardships of life serve to uplift and inspire.” Add a dash of mystery and a dash of adventure in exotic and foreign locations. I was thrilled when Darryl Saffer, an award-winning environmental filmmaker read Ghost Orchid and identified with the confusion of an adopted child who longs for knowledge about birth parents. He provided the beautiful trailer with his original flute music and video to help me share the themes of Ghost Orchid with the world.

Oh, and he did such a beautiful job. What are your thoughts on the standard writing advice, “write what you know”?

D. K. Christi: Sometimes, writing about what you don’t know provides a research challenge that might open a new perspective. I write about real emotions and places I know and shape characters and stories around them. The characters in the short stories published in Forever Travels and Forever Families are people a reader might actually know, people who might step out from the pages and say, “hello.” Neev in Ghost Orchid smiles from the pages of any fashion magazine or points a camera at the flower itself at Corkscrew Swamp. My characters are real enough to touch. The places capture the reader’s imagination and desire to experience for themselves. The only fantasies so far in the pages of a D. K. Christi story are in the imaginations of the characters or in the mystery of that illusive, ethereal ghost orchid plant.

Lovely answer. Have you bought an e-reader? What is your overall impression of electronic publishing?

D. K. Christi: I read on my smart phone and my netbook; I don’t need an e-reader. I believe electronic publishing will become even more real time and exotic. At some point, I think as a person writes, a person across the globe will be reading their words. The importance of producing a perfect first copy will grow. At some point, there will be direct electronic communication from author to reader, bypassing any “publication” except to storage and retrieval systems. The relationship between authors and readers will be important. Reviewers may gain in importance as publishers disappear. Print book machines may be available perhaps in kiosks for those who want a printed copy. Software applications will be more sophisticated for authors, providing online editors in real time and automatically recording a script copy at the same time as a print copy.

I can see that world hovering just over the horizon, D.K., and find the changes in the publishing industry exciting and innovative. I look forward to what the future holds.

Thanks for joining us today, D.K., for an informative, interesting interview. For more information about D.K. Christi:
Ghost Orchid book trailer by Darryl Saffer
WGVU National Public Radio interviews D.K. Christi
Southwest Spotlight

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Upcoming Book Tour

Coming soon! Interview with Dr. Louis Koster on October 29th as part of the 2012 Virtual blog tour announcing the release of  A New Language For Life:  Happy No Matter What!

2012 Virtual Tour Itinerary for 

A New Language For Life:  Happy No Matter What! 

by Louis Koster

October 13
Tour Itinerary at Stephanie Barko, Literary Publicist Blog
Tour Itinerary at Literature & Fiction Blog
Highlighted Title Listing at Independent Publisher
Review by Irene Roth at Blogcritics

October 14
Review by Irene Roth at Roth’s Book Reviews

October 15
Review by Laura Strathman Hulka at Readerwoman Blog

October 16
Review by Dr. Grady Harp at Powell’s
Interview and excerpt at Book Promo Central

October 16 – October 29
Three international ebook giveaways at Library Thing

October 17
Podcast with Big Blend Radio

October 18
US paperback giveaway at Curled Up With A Good Book
Interview at Curled Up With A Good Book
Review by Barbara Bamberger Scott at Curled Up With A Good Book

October 19
Review by Viviane Crystal at Crystal Book Reviews and at The Best Reviews

October 22
Interview at Alpha Chick

October 23
Review, video & excerpt at Spiritual Lounge

October 24
Excerpt at Your Awakened Self Blog

October 25
Review by Helen Gallagher at New York Journal of Books and at Open Salon

October 26
Author essay, excerpt & giveaways at One Story At A Time

October 28
Podcast with Where Am I Going Radio

October 29
Interview at Literature & Fiction Blog

October 30 – November 12
Three US paperback giveaways at GoodReads

October 31
Review by Christine Zibas at Digital Journal and at Bookpleasures

November 1
Review by Irene Conlan at The Self Improvement Blog and at Ezine Articles

November 2
Review by Gloria Oren at Gloria’s Corner Blog

November 5
Excerpt at Night Owl Reviews Blog

November 6
Interview by April Pohren at Blogcritics

November 7
Interview by Cheryl Malandrinos and giveaway at The Book Connection

November 8
Podcast with Conversations Live Radio

November 9
Videos at Preview The Book, Flickr, Photobucket, & Daily Motion

November 12
Review by Darin Godby at Luxury Reading and at Book Blogs Ning

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Florence Osmund

Florence Osmund spent most of her thirty-year career working in corporate America.  Her favorite task was always writing, which eventually led to writing fiction.  Her first novel, The Coach House, was released this year. 

Please tell everyone a little about yourself, Florence.

Florence: I grew up in Libertyville, Illinois, in an old Victorian home complete with a coach house, the same house I used as inspiration for my first two books. I earned my master’s degree from Lake Forest Graduate School of Management and obtained more than three decades of administrative management experience during my career before becoming an author. I currently reside in Chicago where I am working on the sequel to The Coach House.

When did the writing bug bite, and in what genre(s)?

Florence: During my career working in corporate America, my favorite task was always writing–correspondence, reports, newsletters, RFPs, proposals, appraisals, announcements, recommendations, handbooks–you name it. But there were always rules, guidelines and restrictions to appease, not to mention exercising utmost diplomacy and political correctness. Not much room for creativity. Not much fun. Writing fiction is delightfully different.

When you started writing, what goals did you want to accomplish? Is there a message you want readers to grasp?

Florence: My main goal was to just tell a good story, but there is an ethnic thread that runs through The Coach House, and consequently there’s also a message. Without giving away too much of the plot, I will say I want readers to walk away with the sentiment that outward appearances don’t matter, and I hope the protagonist is a shining example of that.

Briefly tell us about your latest book. Is it part of a series or stand-alone?

Florence: My latest book, Daughters, is a sequel to The Coach House and is currently in production. It picks up where the first one left off—where the twenty-four-year-old protagonist, Marie, is getting ready to meet her newfound family for the first time.

What’s the hook for the book?

Florence: What I hope draws readers in and compels them to read further is in the first chapter when the protagonist is uneasy about the slick-looking man who comes to her door looking for her husband, Richard. And then when she catches Richard talking to the creepy Russian guy next door and his late night secretive phone calls increase, she becomes more than just a little uneasy. But she justifies not confronting him head-on at this point because in all other aspects, Richard is a loving and generous husband, and she desperately wants to start a family with him.

How do you develop characters?

Florence: I find one of the most challenging aspects of writing good fiction is effective character development. You really need to get inside the characters’ heads (especially the protagonist’s) in order for the reader to connect with them. I use physical descriptions along with dialogue, actions and internal thoughts to portray characters. Depicting their emotional state in certain scenes, showing their strengths and weaknesses and how  they relate to others are also good ways to develop characters. A tool I use is the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicators which categorize a person’s behaviors into sixteen different types. Once I determine a character’s M-B personality type, I further develop him/her using other traits typically found for that type of personality.

Who’s the most  likeable character?

Florence: I’ve received substantial feedback on the protagonist, Marie. Readers like her and want very much for her to succeed in getting her life back on track after fleeing from her husband who she eventually discovers is mixed up with an array of Chicago mobsters, corrupt politicians and dirty cops. I’ve had readers tell me they feel like they’ve been through Marie’s conflicts right along with her and are on the edge of their seats until the tension subsides and the conflict is resolved.

Do you have specific techniques to help you maintain the course of the plot?

Florence: This was my first novel, and it went through many re-writes. Half-way through the re-write process, I discovered that establishing plot points for each chapter helped guide me through the storyline.

How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?

Florence: While I didn’t consciously embody myself or people I know into any of the characters, I’m certain there are instances of this occuring throughout the book. I’m not sure how that can be avoided. After all, you can only write about what you know. What is certain, I named the book The Coach House because I wanted the protagonist to find a suitable refuge after fleeing from her husband, and the somewhat remote coach house situated behind an old Victorian house in Atchoson, Kansas seemed like the perfect place. Did I mention that I grew up in an old Victorian house with a coach house in back?

Share the best review (or a portion) that you’ve ever had.


“The Coach House is an engrossing story that brings you into the life of a young woman in the late 1940’s. As I read, I became more and more involved with Marie and her life. She is a complex person, and just when you think you know much about her, a new fact merges that takes you deeper into the story. When I find myself wishing I had more time to read a book, I know it’s good, and The Coach House fits the bill. And when I want the story not to end, it’s a very good book. Thankfully there is a sequel due out. I’ll definitely be reading that book too.”

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

Florence: Here are links to my writing world:




Book purtchase:

Thanks for joining us today, Florence.

Florence: Thank you for allowing me to participate in this on-line interview.

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William E. Marden

W.E. Marden  (Daniel Quentin Steele) is a Jacksonville author and native Floridian. A former educator, he has been a journalist and public relations professional. He has covered and reported on crime and cops, courts and trials in several Florida cities. He has worked as a speech writer and political and media consultant. He has had one novel published in the U.S. and Great Britain as well as short stories published in the U.S., Canada, Australia and England.

Hi William, Please tell everyone a bit about yourself.

William: I’ve worked in newspapers, P.R. and education, but I’ve always been a writer whatever paid my bills. In the last two years, I’ve experienced a creative and personal rebirth. I’d spent years getting ready to glide into an uneventful and quiet countdown to death when something funny happened. There’s nothing like thinking you’re going to lose it all, and probably die, to wake you up to the beauty of living every day. I have married, loved, lost, changed jobs, lost people I loved, been unemployed, been defeated again and again, but I’m still here. However, none of those things are why I’m really here. What I write, what I put down on paper or in electronic form, those are why I’m here. I’m a writer. That’s the bottom line.

When did the writing bug bite, and in what genre(s)?

William: In the fifth grade. I wrote a short story about some friends of mine and myself in an adventure in a mine. I read it in class. My teacher and the other kids in my class loved it.  I was hooked.  The genre was adventure. The first genres I wrote seriously in as an adult were science fiction, fantasy and horror.

When you started writing, what goals did you want to accomplish? Is there a message you want readers to grasp?

William:  I wanted to write short stories and later novels that would sell/be published. I’ve always been an avid reader and simply wanted to be published in the magazines I’d read and have other people read and enjoy my work the way I’d read other authors. I’ve never had a ‘message’ per se.

Briefly tell us about your latest book. Is it part of a series or stand-alone?

William:  My latest work is a complete departure from anything else I’ve ever written. It’s one novel, broken into four volumes for purposes of length.  Each volume until the final  breaks on a nail-biter, a cliffhanger. The series or overall novel title is When We Were Married. Volume One is subtitled The Long Fall, and Volume Two is subtitled Second Acts. It is written under the Daniel Quentin Steele pseudonym. This book (s) is mainstream with no fantasy elements. It’s set in Jacksonville Florida in 2005 and 2006 and tells the story of the end of the marriage between an obsessed prosecutor with the State Attorney’s Office and his beautiful University of North Florida professor/wife. The novel explores how Assistant State Attorney Bill Maitland and Debbie Maitland-Bascomb react to the end of their marriage, how Maitland prosecutes a variety of murderers and drug dealers while Debbie loses her husband, lover, children and finally her career in education and must make a new life for herself. The novel is a realistic behind the scenes look at the courtroom, cops and crime and features explicit sexual scenes during the end of the marriage and afterwards.

What’s the hook for the book? 

William: Four words: “When we were married.” The novel shows how four words said at the wrong time and place can destroy a twenty-year relationship, devastate a family,  shake a courthouse and send out ripples that will impact lives on three continents.

How do you develop characters? Setting? 

William: In the case of When We Were Married, I started with the physical descriptions of the two main characters which  fueled the action of the first long intro chapter and once the actions that launched the novel were taken, worked backwards through flashbacks and sessions with an empathetic psychiatrist to flesh out the history of the two characters and how they became the people they are at the start of the novel. Once you realize that Bill Maitland is a dedicated lawyer but a short, fat, balding middle aged man married to a taller, busty,  beautiful woman who has fought to maintain her figure and is catnip to men, you don’t have to be a genius to see the train wreck that’s coming. The first chapter focuses on Bill and Debbie’s personal life, but enough of the day to day workings of the State Attorney’s Office is shown to make Maitland’s work life and his role as day to day top prosecutor for a three-county circuit believable. It takes longer to get a better look at Debbie’s professional life as an Associate Professor, but the depiction has drawn reader praise for its authenticity.

Who’s the most unusual/most likeable character?

William: That would have to be Bill Maitland, although readers have indicated that Debbie Maitland  fills that role for some and there are others who could claim that ace defense attorney, Lew Walters AKA “The Shark”  is the most fascinating character. One of the things that many readers have praised the most highly are the number of strong characters. Many readers see Maitland as a hot tempered, unreasonable jerk at the beginning. Even as he’s revealed as a compassionate, honest and honorable man, he still has a LOT of character flaws that are revealed as the novel progresses. Most of his problems, including the loss of his wife and alienation from his children, he’s brought on himself. Debbie Maitland is a gorgeous woman who has had men after her since she was 13, enjoys the effect she has on men, and has few female friends because she likes the fact that most of the women who could be her friends don’t want to be because of her effect on their men. She’s conceited, with reason. But she loved Bill Maitland for nearly two decades, fought to hold onto a sexually unfulfilling marriage until she couldn’t any longer and in the end her children mean more to her than the best sex she’s known in twenty years. Lew Walters is a take-no-prisoners legal mercenary who’ll cut almost anyone’s throat, except his best friend, Bill Maitland. And even though  he’s conceited, he’s just that good in a courtroom.

Do you have specific techniques to help you maintain the course of the plot?   

William: Much of the novel is foreshadowed so that the plot as it progresses, moves from one climactic moment to the next which readers have already been expecting for some time. Two key elements in the novel are introduced early and then later in the first volume and come to fruition in the second volume. In the second volume two major plot threads are introduced and begun. One will be the spine of the third volume and the other plot will occupy much of the fourth volume. And over and above these specific plot points, the main thread of the entire four-volume series is – what will happen to Bill and Debbie. The real theme of the entire four-volume set could be summed up by the title of the second volume – Second Acts. In other words, when lives are ruined and marriages end, can two people even if they love one another, ever put things back together again? Or should they move on?

Do you have a specific writing style? Preferred POV? 

William: My preferred POV is first person. I’ve written one novel and a few short stories in third, but first is preferred. When We Were Married is somewhat unusual in that it’s a combination. It is primarily first person POV, that of Bill Maitland, but large portions of the novels are written in third person as well, usually that of Debbie Maitland. I’m not really sure why that works, but in my mind it does and readers don’t seem to have any problem following the POV changes.

How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?

William: I was born and raised and have lived in the North Florida area that is the setting for “When We Were Married.”  I’ve used Jacksonville as the setting for other novels. I worked as a reporter covering cops and courts for more than a decade and has the chance to see the public and private sides of prosecutors, defense lawyers, cops, criminals, trials and most of the other aspects of life explored in WWWM.

Share the best review (or a portion) that you’ve ever had.


Posted January 5, 2012

An excellent, compelling read

I read this book continuously over a couple of days, staying up late to finish it, and found it a compelling book. The main characters are complex people and like any good narrative story how you view the characters changes. Unlike many such tales of a couple splitting apart, the author goes into enough depth that you actually start understanding the human feelings at the center of this. This is not the evil spouse leaves the good spouse, the good spouse is devastated then gets their life back together. It is a lot more complex than that. There are nuances, wheels within wheels, that keep you guessing and at least in my case made me change my opinions about the people. I think maybe because I have been married for 23 years and have had my ups and downs and elements of the story remind me of my own life, in many ways it haunted me, made me think about my own feelings and emotions and as a result dug me in deeper.

Mr. Steele’s writing is excellent. It isn’t overly wordy and the dialog is both jarring at times and realistic, the anger and love and confusion expressed in the words paints a vivid picture of people in turmoil. Defining this book simply based on its category would be like defining a Raymond Chandler story as just another mystery and dismissing it as such without reading it would be a major mistake.

What are your current projects?

William: I’m currently in the process of writing the third volume of When We Were MarriedThe Wind Is Rising and hopefully in the next several weeks will be posting  a third novel, a previously written urban fantasy titled Lady White Eyes.

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

William: My e-books are sold on Barnes and Noble and on Smashwords for most readers and in most formats. They’re currently not available in hard copy, although I hope to arrange that shortly.  I have a website and a Facebook page for Daniel Quentin Steele and I welcome any contacts via my Daniel Quentin Steele email address.Both Volume 1 and 2 are selling for $9.95 a download.      (website)  (facebook)!/QSteele1   (twitter account – would love to be followed)   (youtube – The Unknown Writer interview)

Thanks for joining us today, William.

William: Thank you for this opportunity to get some information out about my books.

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