Friday, 31 August 2012

Interview: Cheryl Bradshaw

I have the great honor today of talking with mystery/thriller writer Cheryl Bradshaw author of the Sloane Monroe Series.

Thank you for joining us Cheryl.  Why don’t you tell us something about yourself, where you are from, and what you do (besides writing of course)

I grew up in California; I’m from the town I talk about in I Have a Secret.  I got married a few years ago and moved to Wyoming which has been a major adjustment for me.  But I am learning to like it here, little by little, and will be starting a new series set in Wyoming in 2013. 

When I am not writing and chasing after kids, I like to travel.  Over the next two months I’ll be going to Alaska and Hawaii.  I love historical locations.  I’m a big fan of Abraham Lincoln, so I’ve been to his birth place and childhood home, etc.  As a side note, I almost bought a framed (and certified) strand of his hair a couple months ago for $900, but I decided that might seem a bit too obsessive. 
Do you regret not buying it? 

I personally am reading your Sloane Monroe series of books. Book #4 in the series, Stranger in Town, is soon coming out. What is this one about?

Stranger in Town begins with a little girl getting kidnapped.  This is followed by another kidnapping several months later.  Sloane is hired to track down the kidnapper when the case goes cold.

In Sinnerman you go noticeably darker, even the cover is darker than the other brightly colored ones, do you think Sloane will ever be in a dark story line again?

Sinnerman was the easiest book for me to write.  I finished it in four months.  Thrillers are probably more my style than mysteries (for whatever reason it’s easy for me to write the “dark stuff”), but I enjoy writing in both genres, and I anticipate going back and forth between the two as I continue writing.  I might even veer off the path and dabble in a ghost story or two.

Black Diamond Death was the first novel I ever wrote, and I was trying to find my voice.  It wasn’t until I wrote Sinnerman that I got more comfortable with my writing style.  Over the last month I have revised Black Diamond Death and anticipate publishing the second edition in September.  I am also redoing the cover.  It’s amazing what we learn as we go.  Since publishing my first novel, I have a new editor, formatter, and cover artist. 

A lot of writer’s base their main characters on one or more real people. Mine, for instance is supposed to look like Bosco from the show Third Watch but is also based on Bayliss from Homicide, myself, and a real officer I interviewed for the part….who is Sloane Monroe?

I can’t point my finger at any one influence and say they are Sloane.  I suppose in ways she has some of my qualities (some of my relatives are convinced she IS me), but she is a lot different as well.  She has a fear of commitment, is codependent, and has had a lot of life experiences I can’t relate to.  It was fun to dream Sloane up and put her on paper.  I enjoy seeing her evolve; she becomes more unique and more of her own person as time goes on. 

You help other Indie Writer’s to connect with each other and connect with audiences…why?

When I first started, I didn’t know anyone, except a few traditionally pubbed authors, so I created Indie Writers Unite.  I also created a blog for writers.  There’s so much to learn when you are just starting out, and I wanted to pass the information on to all the newbie writers out there who aren’t sure what they are doing at first.  The industry is constantly changing, and there are a lot of things to keep up with.  I believe we all need to help each other out as much as possible. 

What is the greatest part about being an independent writer?

Being indie published is perfect for my OCD!  I love being in control of things like what the cover looks like and when my books come out, etc.  But I don’t just look at myself like I’m independent.  I’m an author.  I have a publicist.  I’ve considered signing with a publisher, and maybe one day I will.  It all comes down to making sure it’s the right fit for me at the right time.  I see all authors the same way, no matter how they are published.  A good book is a good book.

What is the worst part about being an independent writer?

There’s still a stigma attached to it, which I hope will change one day.  I understand why though, to a degree.  We’ve seen a wave of writers publishing books without an editor, a cover artist, a formatter, and things that make the writer look legitimate in the eyes of the reader.  I’m hoping this will change in the future.

Do you have any regrets about going this direction with your writing or your books?

I’ve never regretted publishing this way. 

I’m a chef so I have to ask – what do you like to eat and/or snack on while writing?

I don’t usually eat while I’m writing, but I almost always have a cup of tea nearby.  Sometimes two.  I’m a tea fanatic.  If I were to have a snack, it would be dark chocolate of some kind, preferably chocolate mousse or a frosted brownie.  But since I am keen on keeping my girlish figure, I usually just go with the tea!  Of course, if you were to send me some cookies or brownies, Lorne, rest assured I’d eat them while writing.
I'll work on that.

If Sloane Monroe were to come for a visit for an evening, what would the two of you do?

Probably something practical like dinner and a movie.  If I was playing the role of Maddie, however, I’d try and get Sloane to do something she’d most likely regret in the morning. 

What do you think you two would talk about?

Sloane’s life is always complicated.  The conversation would either be about the case she’s working on, or her love life. 

What is the one thing you enjoy about writing?

I express myself better through writing than I do in normal conversations with people.  I’m a very private person.  It takes years for people to get to know me on a personal level.  But when I write, I don’t care what I say.  There’s a kind of freedom I get from writing that I can’t get any other way.   

When can we look forward to Stranger in Town being out?

Fall 2012.  I’m hoping for October, but it might be November. 

For updates on Cheryl and her books:

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Saturday, 25 August 2012

Emotional Guest Blog

Sending out guest blogs is so much fun.  Not only is it a marketing tool but other people who wouldn't normally see my blog get to see just how crazy I am.  This blog post is about writing emotion and has a little snipit of Red Island.  It is the scene which has scared me every time I take a shower.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

The History of a Young Adult

Young Adult
Why, eh? (Sorry, Canadian joke.)
Vampires, ooooo I love vampires.
No way, werewolves so hot.

I got a haircut the other day and saw a whole lot of grey so maybe I missed whenever vampires and werewolves got sexy.  My daughter even has a T shirt that says, “Princess?  I’d rather be a vampire.”  What?  She’d rather be undead sucking the blood out of people and watching her entire family die as she lives on?  When I was her age…did I just say that?  Anyway, I didn’t want to be a vampire.  I wanted to be Maverick in Top Gun. 

To me vampires are Bram Stokers Dracula and Anne Rice’s Lestat.  What is it Lestat says, “God kills indiscriminantly, and so shall we.”  They grab whomever they chose and drain their blood until they are dead.  Werewolves attack without thought or discretion and kill.  My novel is a suspense thriller about a serial killer.  In my mind loving a vampire or werewolf is not much different than having a crush on serial killers like Ted Bundy or Dahmer or Gacy.

Okay, I will stop that there.  I know that YA novels are not ALL about vampires and werewolves…right?  I must have been in a comma the past few years because I didn’t realise how big the YA genre was.  I knew there was this wizard dude and I read most of those books but then these glittering vampires showed up and some girl up in a tree with a bow.  I didn’t read the vampire one but I do plan on reading Hunger Games.  This Young Adult thing is huge.  You go out on the internet thingy looking for boog blogs and 9 out of 10 are going to be YA.  When the hell did this happen?

I decided to do my research…

When I was my kids age, which is 10 and 12, I can’t remember there being a  Young Adult category.  Is it a new thing then?  Nope.  I had the Hardy Boys and I knew about Nancy Drew but apparently this genre started way back in the 1800’s.  A lot of classic novels fall in this genre.  The Swiss Family Robinson (1812), Alice in Wonderland (1865), The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), Anne of Green Gables (1908).  Some say, however, that the YA genre didn’t really start until 1951 when The Catcher in the Rye was published.  Lord of the Flies, To Kill a Mocking Bird, The Lord of the Flies, The Narnia series, and so on, and so on.  Oh, I can’t forget The Outsiders.  Basically the Young Adult novel has been around for quite some time.  Most of them had nothing to do with vampires.

I could be wrong, but to me the modern though of YA novels is that they have to have something to do with vampires or magic or fantasy.  Truth is they don’t.  A YA novel is defined as a book written for and marketed to adolescence between the ages of 12 and 19.  The protagonist is usually someone within that age range as opposed to an adult.  The unique thing that YA novels have is that they can pretty much cross over with just about every genre there is.  And the books are not strictly for Young Adults.  As long as the books are well written everyone can find enjoyment in them.

YA is a giant entity in the book work.  Is it getting saturated?  Is there still room for more?  My kids have always wanted me to write them into a story somehow.  If you can't beat them-join them.  The following is something that puts my old Hardy Boys books with my kids and involves something I wrote on an earlier post called Ideas Everywhere:

“Kib shubud all dremy.”

“Weev chim adone, Pawnee whats im.” 

There was heat and smells.  His body was itchy.  Where was he?

A lone man walked.  His boots hit the black highway dispersing the heat haze that hung above its surface.  Faded and torn jeans clung to his sweaty legs.  A belt buckle made of white bone seemed to glow in the sun and heat.  He walked like a man with a path to follow.  Each step had a purpose.  A white shirt, strategically stained with sweat, was open showing the muscles of his stomach and chest.  A brown suede jacket hung from his hand like a dead animal.  The hot afternoon sun touched his tanned skin in waves of immense heat that never seemed to stop. 

“Whetar we dogin witt de grrr?”

“Frog ter, haw haw ho haw.”

What was going on?

Sweat ran down his face, grew pregnant on a hard jaw line and dropped only to be evaporated into the hot breathless air before reaching the black asphalt.  His sandy brown hair fell almost to his shoulders and was drenched in perspiration.  Tiny droplets fell and joined the others in the fabric of his shirt.  Blue eyes squinted and looked forward. 

Stretched out on either side of the long highway was a sand crusted desert.  Cactus plants took whatever liquid they could get from the scorched sandy earth.  Rocks were scattered about as if play pieces from a child’s game abandoned and forgotten.  There was nothing close by with the promise of shade.  The trees were sparse and leafless.  The only wind was hotter than the air.  Perched on a sign, too faded to read, a black raven called out.


Somewhere amongst the rocks there was a rattling.  His tongue teased his cracked lips.  He was a lone man.  He walked alone through the valley of death and indeed, he feared no evil.

“Kid, eh, quit your damn noises.”  The words came through the juicy smacking of gum.

Wylie blinked.  He thought about raising his hand to wipe something wet from his mouth, but neither hand would move.  Why wouldn’t they move?  His wrists burned.  They were attached to each other.  Tied?  Taped?  Heat from a vent pointed directly at his face blasted hot air against his face. 

Where was he?  What was happening?

He closed his eyes and squeezed his lids tight then tried to open them and focus.  There were only pieces of things.  Nothing made sense.  A key chain made of beads rattled off a steering column.  A woman’s voice sang a country song about independence.

Jordann liked to sing.  Jordann?

A collection of air fresheners hung from the rear-view mirror.  A dozen or so pine trees of dark and light green, yellow, blue, and white, a red maple leaf, a brown pine cone with a big green leaf, and one of the Tasmanian Devil from old Looney Tunes cartoons had all done their job at some point in time.  A new orange pine tree with the word coconut written on it was trying.  The first smell Wylie got was stale sweat and cheese crackers.

He was covered from the neck down by a tan wool blanket.  It had green stripes on it.  It made his skin itch.  He could tell his hands were tied together.  He couldn’t separate his ankles from each other.  His head felt like it was spinning.  There was something wet and sticky on the side of his face along with a throbbing.  He had to close his eyes again.  Where was he going?  What were they going to do to him?  Where was his sister, Jordann?

He had to remember how he got there.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Indie Writer's

It says right up there that I have this blog to not only put myself out there but to also help out other Indie Authors.  I haven't really done much of that last part, so I am now on the lookout for anyone who wants to write a guest blog or put a short sample of their writing or come up with a goofy limeric or talk about what annoys doesn't even have to be Indie writer's.  I support traditionally published writer's as well or those who haven't published a thing.

I might be picky about who I accept blog enteries from, and may put more emphasis on suspense thrillers but anything goes.  Drop me a line and we will see whats what.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Tuesday, 7 August 2012


My Dad hated it when I said oops.  I am saying it again.  I, like many authors, really wanted to put my novel out there.  A few people had read it and gone over it so I figured how many errors could there be.  According to the latest reviewer 103.

Even with those he gave me 3 stars so that's something.

In responseto this I am going to stop promoting Red Island for now and get it edited.  I still have some guest blog posts, interviews, and reviews coming out so I can only hope for the best.

I appologize to anyone having to deal with my slack assed education.  I take the blame for that one to.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Those Wonderful Experiences

I am a fiction writer, a fiction author.  The lose translation of that sentence is…I lie a lot and write it all down for others to read.  Yes fiction writers are big fat liars, liars with their pants on fire.  I’m pretty sure JK Rowling never flew on a broom, nobody is a real vampire, have fought zombies, and I didn’t kill all those women that died in Red Island.  I have an alibi.  However, a lot of fiction is based on the experiences of the writer.

Without life experiences life and writing can be pretty boring.  The top rule in writing has always been “write what you know.”  As fiction writers we have to bend this rule.  We have to look around the fuzzy edges and bend the truth.  I am pretty certain that nobody has been on alien planets, but look around the main events and you will find reality.  A writer’s experiences are what they can put within the confines of the fiction.

To write with a grain of truth you have to have life experiences.  There is very little I would ever say no to trying once.  The other day we were watching Fear Factor on television.  The contestants had to spin a wheel and would either have to get a tattoo, get their heads shaved, or be tear gassed.  All I could think of was, “cool all the scenes I could write.”  I could describe the emotions that go with shaving your head, the way the electric razor vibrates against your skull.  I could write about the pain of the tattoo needle going into your skin, whether the pain gets worse or goes numb.  And best of all I could find a character to put into a room of tear gas:  the fire in the eyes, the taste of the smoke when you can’t hold your breath any more, smoke burns down your throat making you cough and spit.  Oh what I could write.

Think of all of the things you have ever done in your lifetime and what you could write about.  As I’ve said in other blogs, it is the fine details that makes a story real.  Think of all the things you’ve done, make a list, and all that you can write about.  I’ll start,

Worked in a federal prison alongside murderers, drug dealers, and abusers
Been lost in the Rocky Mountains
Been lost in the Northwestern Ontario forest
Had search and rescue training
Seen a body pulled from a pond and pulled rapidly to a waiting ambulance
Seen a high speed car chase in Montreal
Been in a high speed car chase
Shoplifted a chocolate bar
Been in a fight
Rolled a car upside down
Been in a plane, on a boat
Taste tested blue cheese dressing every time I made it over one summer (I hate cheese)
Saw a maggot army on the charge
Got married on the ocean floor
Been inside a castle
Been inside a septic tank
Different sexual encounters
Dealing with my children

Stephen King said in On Writing that other peoples jobs can be interesting to people who have never done that job.  Think of all the jobs you have ever had.  My turn again:

Worked a beer gardens
Security guard at a hospital, parking lot, construction area, airport, strike area, etc.
Convenience store clerk
Call center
Delivered newspapers in the rural area
Worked as a cook/sous chef/chef in different types of restaurants

You can put in all the tiny details that make up a story.  Red Island is a suspense thriller so all of those tiny characters that come in and out can somehow have experiences that I once had.  Even just taking an experience and writing about it, remembering the smells and sounds and tastes, can be a good exercise to work on your writing.

Have experiences, observe life, get back to writing.