To Live & Write in FLA- Carol J. Perry

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I know it is April, but can we pretend it is October? In South Florida, October is about the time we all start leaving our air conditioned caves to venture outside. The weather becomes bearable and Halloween decor incites us. I think Carol J. Perry  lives in a stasis of October and I am jealous. She was born in Salem, Massachusetts. AND to make matters more magically ….. born on All Hallow’s Eve! I hope you enjoy her interview and if you are not already a fan of her Witch City Mysteries get to reading them.

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How long have you lived in FLA?

I’ve lived in Florida for forty three years!  (I hadn’t added it up lately and the answer surprised me. That’s a long, happy time away from New England winters!)

Where do you write and when?

I write in a once-upon-a-time Florida room, now a cozy, messy office. I usually begin early in the morning, (it’s 4:17 AM now) and write on and off until about noon.

Carol Perry, Gulfport

What is your biggest failure and what did it teach you?

Perhaps I’m too much of an optimist to think about “failure.” Can we call it a learning experience? Anyway, once back in the beginning of my freelance career, I queried and got an assignment from Ford Times. The editor gave me a clear indication of the way the article should cover the proposed subject. I wrote it the way I thought it should be. Rejected, of course. The lesson? Follow the damned directions!

What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received? Or do you have some personal writing advice to offer?

Here’s a piece of advice about writing: “Visualize, have faith, and work your ass off.”

Who is your Dead Dream Date and why? (Literary or otherwise)

Literary Dead Dream date is Ernest Hemingway, not so much for the picking of his brain about writing, although that might be part of the conversation. I want him to take me fishing. I’ve done some big game fishing, (blue fin tuna, marlin) but I’d love to fish with the master!

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Favorite cocktail or N/A drink and at what Florida bar?

Not much of a drinker. I like wine—usually white wine. My favorite place to drink it is the Miami Avenue Wine Bar in Indian Rocks Beach, where they have music, an art gallery and a “book nook” where they carry my books!

Ask Carol a question via the comments section.

Remember there is a new Florida author interview every two weeks and a newsletter with jewelry tips and cocktail recipes. (sign up for it in the left column)

To Live & Write in FLA- Valerie Willis

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I’m pleased to introduce you to a rarity— a REAL Floridian! Valerie Willis is a 6th generation Floridian. That is just unheard of in this state of tourist, retirees, and snow birds that averages 1,000 new residents per day.

Valerie writes a couple of different series. A Paranormal Fantasy Romance Series featuring an anti-hero called Cedric and the  Teen Urban Fantasy series Tattooed Angels. She mixes mythology, folklore and history into her storytelling.

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How long have you lived in FLA?

All my life! In fact I was sixth generation on the same road in my hometown, Winter Garden. At one point, most of the neighborhood was related by blood or marriage, so it was very small town feel. As for how long my relatives have been there, I can only guess as far back as the late 1800’s due to a conversation I had with my Great Grandma. She knew it was originally “Mosquito County” and the specific area where we were living was labelled “Rattlesnake Ridge” – talk about mind-blowing!

Where do you write and when?

I attempt to write at home, but often the household is a little too distracting for me. My default writing is making a date on the weekend with my laptop. The two of us go to a Wi-Fi savvy café or diner to indulge in coffee and finger foods. On occasion, thanks to Writer’s Atelier and the literary community in Orlando, I get to frequent write-ins at least once a month. Something about being in a room full of writers really spurs the word count out of me.

What is your biggest failure and what did it teach you?

My biggest failure was trying to edit while writing the first draft. There are no words for the level of frustration, the amounts of writers block, and a long list of headaches attempting to do this caused. My mentors started fussing at me for it, so I started leaving notes behind in lieu of editing. The speed in which the first draft finishes is a huge difference. I learned that you can’t where two hats at the same time, you’ll only weigh yourself done and make yourself miserable and even drive yourself away from a beloved story. When you are a writer, WRITE! When you have a finished first draft, then put on your Editor’s hat and EDIT!

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What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?  Or do you have some personal writing advice to offer?

I suppose I sort of revealed this in my above response. As for some personal writing advice to offer, I would have to say to not give up. Only you can write the story, share what’s in your head. Try not to be your own obstacle. Make time to write, where one hat at a time, and if you can, reach out to writers and surround yourself with a supportive group who inspires you to write and learn from one another.

Who is your Dead Dream Date and why?  (Literary or otherwise)

I would have loved to had the opportunity to talk about writing and Japanese history with James Clavell. It was his work that showed me you can be historically accurate as well as manage a plot with multiple characters. Much of his style of writing inspires me, but I am also a complete geek about oriental history. I would love to have had a conversation over dinner and wine while having a nerd moment with him.

Favorite cocktail or N/A drink and at what Florida bar?

When they have it, Kopparberg’s Strawberry Lime Hard Cider at the Copper Rocket in Maitland! I frequent there with Writers of Central Florida for open mic readings, so it’s become a very fond place for me. That and they carry my favorite Hard Cider on occasion!

strawberry-lime-wine-recipeFollow Valerie on  social media: facebook, twitter, and GoodReads.

And read her humorous real-life tales on her blog.

I’ll be back in two weeks with a new Florida Author interview. Sign up for my newsletter (form in left side column)  and get a monthly jewelry tip and drink recipe from Gigi, the jewelry designer sleuth in my Love & Diamonds series.

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To Live & Write in FLA- Alethea Kontis

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Welcome back to all the Cozy in Miami readers. Maybe that should be an  ‘I’m back!’? I’ve recuperated from SleuthFest and have lined up some exciting authors for 2017’s edition of To Live & Write in FLA. Don’t forget to sign up (column to your left) to get new posts to this blog delivered directly to your inbox. 

I’d like to introduce you to Alethea Kontis. Although we have never met IRL, we know each other via an online Florida writers group. I think I will soon have to visit her as she’s promised to bring homemade baklava! Being that she is Greek I’m betting it is probably very, very good. A few other things to know about this New York Times bestselling author: She is a princess. She is an authority on Fairy Tales. She writes children’s books, YA, and adult paranormal/fantasy. And there is so much more… but, onto the interview.

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How long have you lived in FLA?

3 years

Where do you write and when?

Lately I’ve been working at Port St. Java (Port St. John) once or twice a week, but mostly I’m at home on the couch—nothing fancy. As for work hours…well, if I’m breathing, I’m writing.

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What is your biggest failure and what did it teach you?

My biggest failure: Every romantic relationship I’ve ever had.

What did it teach me: How to write angry. How to write sad. How to write evil. How to write hope. How to write a broken heart. How to write a happy ending. But mostly, how nothing and no one is worth sacrificing my career and my family.

What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?  

The best advice I’ve ever received…it’s hard to put into words. It was more of an attitude, really. I had no formal creative writing education growing up—I was a child actress and science nerd who majored in Chemistry. But that never stopped me from writing and learning everything I could about the publishing industry. And when my mentors finally did appear—Orson Scott Card, Andre Norton, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Jane Yolen, Jude Deveraux—they never treated me like a wannabe. They said things like, “Just write the novel.” Or “When are you coming back over to work?” Or “Get used to it.” I might not have known I was a “real author,” but they did. I just needed to see myself in their mirrors. Even now, I hear their voices in my head, and I get back to work.

So if you’re a writer, listen to your mentors. Let them be hard on you. Trust them. Remember their voice in your head. And if you don’t have one, I’ll be that voice for you right now: Go write that novel. Go back to work. Writing is hard. Get used to it.

Who is your Dead Dream Date and why?

Not fair—there are so many to choose from! Off the top of my head, I would love to sit and visit with Ellen Raskin. Ellen is best known for her Newbury Award Winning book (and best mystery of all time) The Westing Game, but my favorite of hers was called The Tattooed Potato and Other Clues. Ellen also worked in the industry as a graphic artist—among the hundreds of covers she produced was the first edition of Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. She died when I was eight (right around the same time I started reading her books).

I am such a huge fan of authors like that—Ellen Raskin, Astrid Lindgren, Lewis Carroll, Diana Wynne Jones—renaissance people with diverse interests who wrote genius level books for subversive young misfits like me. They challenged me to be even smarter, and made me feel like having a Giant Brain maybe wasn’t such a bad thing after all.

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Favorite cocktail or N/A drink and at what Florida bar?

I really don’t do bars or cocktails. My favorite Florida evenings are spent shrimping with my dad on the pier out past the Mercury 7 memorial in Titusville. It’s always so beautiful and peaceful out on the water, under the stars. And no matter how many shrimp we catch (or don’t), I always high-five John Glenn on the way back home.

Check out Alethea Kontis on her website, twitter, and facebook.

I’ll be back in two weeks with a new Florida author interview.

7 days and counting

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SLEUTHFEST is only 7 days away!

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I am thankful to have something to focus on rather than the news. If you follow me on twitter then you’ve seen my obsession with it. It is our civic obligation to be watchful and knowledgeable about our government. But, these last 28 days have  me dizzy trying to keep up with being informed. I’ve recently found this site that bullet points the day’s happenings. It has helped me have time to read the longer think pieces and counterpoints which do help my blood pressure simmer down, some. Now with SleuthFest only a week away, I really need to shift the focus back to me and mysteries. (aka self-care) Take a look at the three-ring binder that I’ve gussied-up!

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One of my volunteer jobs is organizing the on-site registration table. There are thirteen folks rotating through in shifts over three days. They will pass out conference credentials/nametags and answer all kinds of questions. The most asked questions: Where’s the bathroom? Where’s the luncheon? Sometimes, I think the registration table has an INFO sign blinking in neon above it. I don’t mind the questions as I like to meet people and help the lost. Admittedly though, most of the answers are in the  program book. Hard to believe writers sometimes don’t read and research! Let’s blame it on the proximity to so much star wattage. With David Baldacci in attendance the wattage is pretty damn hot this year.

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The number and variety of panels and workshops can also get a person turned around and flummoxed. There are 49 to choose from! Add onto that— lunches with guest speakers, agent/editor mixers, trivia night , book signings, the raffle baskets, and the live auction. I’m particularly excited for the trivia night. Not because I am a mystery trivia buff but because it is sure to be filled with goofs, gaffs, and laughter. I’ve donated a basket (My book Jeweler’s Mark, a bottle of prosecco & one of peach liqueur, bellini flutes and more)  to the raffle so buy lots of tickets. I’m also planning my book buying budget as the bookstore will be stocked with the titles of the panel/workshop authors. My budget will get blown but at least I’ll have reading material for six months!

Other fun and a personal goal I’ve set for myself is to get #SF17 to trend on social media. Yes, it is a shallow and meaningless boast to say we trended but, I will have so much fun doing it! You can help! Use the tag #SF17 and/or #SleuthFest on facebook, twitter, instagram, and pintrest. Tag all your conference photos. Anytime you see a flamingo (our mascot is Freddie the Flamingo) take a selfie with it and tag it.

See you there!

 

 

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Miami Interviews- Laurel Peterson

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Feliz Año Nuevo

I’m welcoming Cozy in Miami’s 2017 in with a revival of my Miami Interview series. Laurel Peterson is a frequent visitor to the Magic City. Beyond her love of Miami and mysteries, Laurel & I share something else in common. We are both poets. (Laurel, I also have a poem or two  published in The Distillery.)

This is what Laurel says about how she got into mystery writing. “One eighth grade afternoon, the bully on the bus was worse than usual. I came home and wrote a story of revenge in my journal. What satisfaction to leave her bleeding (on paper, of course!) on the playground. Thus was born my career as a mystery writer.” I agree with her. There is satisfaction in righting wrongs and getting some bloodless revenge. Writing is an amazing tool for overcoming grief, trauma, and hardship. If you have ever written away your woes, please leave us a comment about it.

Now onto the interview~~

Have you ever been to Miami? Please tell us the one thing you found delightful or unique about “The Magic City”.

As northerner whose summers are all too short, I love the heat and have been to Miami several times. We have family there, and my husband and I also use it as a gateway to the Keys. The last time I visited Miami was for a writing conference through The Writer’s Institute: The Center at MDC, which has so many terrific literary programs. I took a workshop with the amazing Mat Johnson on structuring the novel. All the conference organizers thought I was nuts because I walked from the hotel to the college, a total of about 15 blocks. In New York, that’s nothing, but they seemed to think it was endless. One day, enticed by the pretty waterfront park, its touristy shops, and its wonderful sculptures, I got lost. I finally found my way by asking directions, but I barely made it to my workshop on time—and, of course, I was all sweaty. Mat said to me later, “You had your maps app, right?” I had totally forgotten!!

What is your favorite novel set in Florida and why?

Barbara Parker’s Suspicion of…  series was great fun. Two lawyers—one white and one Cuban—tackled tricky cases together. But as a mystery lover, Carl Hiassen is not to be discounted. !!

Tell us about your writing and main characters.

My first mystery novel, Shadow Notes, was recently released by Barking Rain Press. My protagonist Clara Montague has intuitions and a bad relationship with her mother. At the beginning of the novel, she’s been traveling around the world for fifteen years because her mother Constance ignored her intuitions and, as a result, her father died. (The girl knows how to hold a grudge!) Now, she has a dream that her mother is in danger and feels obligated to return home. Shortly after she arrives, Constance is jailed for murder. Did she do it?

Of course Constance refuses to tell her anything, so Clara enlists the aid of brother and sister Andrew and Mary Ellen Winters, Constance’s enemies and wealthy socialites with political ambitions, to dig out Constance’s secrets. But what are the Winters’ motivations for helping her?  And why does the mere fifteen year age difference between Clara and her mother make them nervous?

In addition to writing mysteries, I also write poetry. One chapbook, Talking to the Mirror, was published by The Last Automat Press. The second, That’s the Way the Music Sounds, was published by Finishing Line Press. My full-length collection, “Do You Expect Your Art to Answer?” will be released by Futurecycle Press in January 2017.

Laurel Peterson Shadow Notes Cover compressedWould your main character(s) be a fish out of water in Miami or would they dive in and swim with the sharks?

Clara is a world traveler; it’s something she loves more than almost anything else. While she wouldn’t blend in with the local culture, she would love to participate in it—attending the art openings at the Museum of Contemporary Art, tasting all the different versions of Latin cuisine, walking on the beach, and, because she is a landscape architect, visiting the Miami Beach Botanic Garden, and the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens in Coral Gables.

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I hope you will follow Laurel on her blog and social media. And I hope you’ll come to Miami to see the sights and sample our Latin cuisine.

 

To Live & Write in FLA- Micki Browning

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I love the cover art for Micki Browning‘s new book. She revealed it to a group of fellow mystery writers and I was there that day. That was well over a year ago! I’ve been waiting to read what’s behind that gorgeous cover. Luckily, I won’t have to wait too much long. Her mystery, Adrift, will be released in January 2017. It won the 2015 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence and the Royal Palm Literary Award for best unpublished mystery and unpublished book of the year.

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Before becoming a full-time writer in paradise (The Florida Keys) Micki Browning worked in law enforcement for more than two decades. Coupled with her degree from the FBI National Academy she has an incredible depth of first-hand knowledge that any mystery writer would kill for! (FYI- No need to do that as she is a consultant and will share her expertise with you.) I love the opening to her website. “I have to confess. My current job is murder. I’m a writer of wrongs.”

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How long have you lived in Florida?

I’ve lived in South Florida since 2011. I had every intention of spending six months in the Keys and six months in Colorado, but other than a couple quick trips to visit family and friends in the Centennial State, that plan didn’t work out. It’s nice to live in a state where the people don’t know what a snowblower is, and I can wear flip flops year round.

 

Where do you write and when?

I love writing outside, especially if it’s near water—the saltier the better.  I find that writing freehand taps into a different part of my brain than when I’m at my computer. I’m more adventurous armed with a pencil. That said, I spend a lot of time in my home office.  Deadlines require focus. I’m fortunate that I can write at anytime during the day—as long as I’ve had at least one cup of tea.

 

What is your biggest failure and what did it teach you?

I didn’t sell my first (or second) book, which at the time felt like a horrible failure. It taught me humility. I retired as a police commander, a step away from chief of police, but living life as a police officer was far different than writing about it. I was a neophyte writer who needed to learn her craft.

 

What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

Plot from the point of view of your antagonist, and write from the point of view of your protagonist. Obvious, right? How can your protagonist go about solving the nefarious deed at the heart of the story if the author doesn’t know how the antagonist executed the (almost) perfect crime?

 

Who is your Dead Dream Date and why? (literary or otherwise)

James Thurber. He was primarily a cartoonist, but his short stories were incredibly funny and his wit was driven by intelligence and insight. His brand of storytelling has always resonated with me. He taught me that some of life’s most poignant moments benefit from a dash of humor.

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Favorite cocktail or N/A drink and at what Florida bar?

The first cocktail I had in the Keys was at Sharkey’s Pub in Key Largo and it was a tropical mash-up of light rum, pineapple juice, mango fruit rum, orange juice, passion fruit rum, grenadine, and a splash more rum. I think it was good. I’m not sure, it’s all a bit hazy….

 

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To Live & Write in FLA- Deborah Sharp

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Mama Gets Trashed

Deborah Sharp is one of the funniest writers I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet. Her Mama series is rich with laugh-out-loud moments and insights into the other Florida. (Not glitzy Miami or mouse house Orlando) She is a former reporter for USA Today and she’s married to a reporter , NBC TV’s Kerry Sanders. They met covering a story  ‘ in a frozen farm field in romantic Immokalee, Fla.’ For those non-Floridians, Immokalee is hardly romantic and Florida rarely freezes so no one has proper cold weather gear. 

 

How long have you lived in FLA?

I’m an authentic native, born and raised, which sometimes makes me feel as rare as the endangered Florida panther.
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Where do you write and when?

I don’t have children or a “day job,” so I’m able to write when the mood strikes. Because I write my first drafts in long-hand, in an old-school composition book, I’m able to write anywhere: at home in my office, on my backyard deck overlooking the New River, in a coffee shop, at the library. I just stick the booklet in my backpack and go.

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What is your biggest failure and what did it teach you?

I’m not sure this is a failure, but the biggest mistake I made way back when was thinking I was ready and able to write my first novel, while holding down a demanding, full-time job as a reporter. I did produce a book — badly written, riddled with rookie mistakes, and in no way ready to be pitched to an agent. Which, of course, was what I did, almost as soon as I finished it. Brimming with misplaced self-confidence, I told him, “I think it’s pretty good. After all, I’ve been a journalist for more than 20 years.” Long pause. “Well,” he said, “that doesn’t mean you can write.” He was correct.
That manuscript still lives on a closet shelf, dusty and forgotten, thankfully. I learned confidence doesn’t equal skill. I spent the next year or two in critique groups and at conferences learning to write fiction. Finally, I came up with a book I could be rightfully proud to pitch. It became “Mama Does Time,” the first in my series, published by Midnight Ink.

What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?  Or do you have some personal writing advice to offer?

Strangely, the best writing advice I ever received was also the worst advice. Early in my newspaper career, an editor growled at me, on deadline: “Lose the flowery language and get to the point. Nobody cares what you think.”
It was great advice for a reporter, who (back then, at least) was not supposed to write from a point of view. Let the people in news stories speak for themselves, we were told, without a lot of writerly input or interpretation.
I had to learn to do exactly the opposite in fiction. It wasn’t easy at first.  Against everything I’d known as a journalist, I had to allow the people in my books interior thoughts, give them motives, make up the outcomes of their actions.
It turned out fiction fans DO want to know what I think — or at least what the characters I create think.

 

Who is your Dead Dream Date and why?  (Literary or otherwise)

My dream dinner date would have to be with the late Anne George, an Alabama poet and author who created the Southern Sisters mysteries. My taste in mysteries was changing back then from much darker writing — thrillers — to something lighter when I first found her books. She was such an influence because her funny, kind-hearted mysteries gave me permission to do a similar kind of book — Southern-flavored, full of love of family (even when family drives you crazy), and a little bit wacky.  Were she still alive, I’d ask her if she appreciated my series as an homage, or if she thought I’d completely missed the mark. (I hope she wouldn’t answer the latter. It would make our dessert of Red Velvet cake rather awkward.)

Favorite cocktail or N/A drink and at what Florida bar?

My favorite “cocktail” is actually a beer. Don’t judge! What can I say? I drive a 2003 pickup with a bumper sticker on the back that says Hillbilly.Com, so cocktails are a little high-class for me. My first favorite spot to enjoy a cold one is on my deck over the river. A close second is the Quarterdeck restaurant, perched above the ocean on the Dania Beach Pier.
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When she can set down her cold brew long enough to press click, Deborah posts pictures of the gorgeous sunsets from her back deck. I advise you to follow Deborah on her social media and to get to know Mama & Mace if you haven’t already. Deborah knows Florida and she knows how to make you laugh! 

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To Live & Write in FLA- Ali Brandon

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I know Ali Brandon as Diane A.S. Stuckart. She is the New York Times bestselling author of the Black Cat Bookshop Mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime. And yes, cats have a lot to do with how we met. See—- Diane was wearing a pair of cat ears. I was in line waiting for the doors to open at one of SleuthFest’s big events and I looked behind me to see a lady with cat ears. It was my delight to learn she was the author of the Black Cat Bookshop series.

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I’d already read one of the books in the series and loved her cat character Hamlet. Since, then I’ve begun following Hamlet on twitter and facebook. He is a very talented cat. Diane is, too! You should check out her da Vinci series. It has a canine in it, a lovely Italian greyhound named Pio. So, dog lover or cat lover Diane has a mystery for you. Enjoy the interview.

How long have you lived in FLA?

I said goodbye to my beloved home state of Texas and moved to the West Palm Beach area in 2006 – unfortunately, right before the real estate bubble burst. I guess I’m stuck here now, but that’s OK as I’ve become quite fond of the Sunshine State.

Where do you write and when?

Since I work full-time in addition to my writing, I write nights and weekends in my home office (when I can shove the cats off my desk); or, when the weather is nice, out on my screened back porch. When I’m on deadline, I also write at lunch time in the backseat of my car with my laptop propped on my knees.

What is your biggest failure and what did it teach you?

I don’t think I’ve had failures as much as missed opportunities – sometimes brought on by Fate and sometimes because I just didn’t hustle enough. But I’ve learned not to worry about following the trends…or worry that what I’m writing is to similar to something already out there. If it’s good, it’s going to sell.

What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?  Or do you have some personal writing advice to offer?

The best advice wasn’t specifically given to me, but advice I take to heart — namely, never envy another writer’s achievements. There’s plenty of room at the top for all of us, even though it doesn’t always feel that way Rather than wasting time wishing I had someone’s success, I should be busy emulating their work ethic that gained them that success in the first place. Though, of course, being in the right place at the right time never hurts!

Who is your Dead Dream Date and why?  (Literary or otherwise)

After having read all his notebooks while doing research for my Leonardo da Vinci mystery series, I’d have to say Leonardo. He was a quirky, brilliant, arrogant, and complicated man who managed despite penning thousands of pages of writings and drawings to reveal very little personal information about himself. I’d love to fill in some of those blanks.

 Favorite cocktail or N/A drink and at what Florida bar?

I’m not big at hanging out in bars—can’t handle the cigarette smoke–so I’m afraid I don’t have a favorite watering hole. Besides which, you’re more likely to see me clutching a Diet Coke than a cocktail. But my adult drink of choice at home is currently Moscato when it’s hot, and Bailey’s and coffee when it’s cold. When out, I opt for a Margarita on the rocks with plenty of salt.

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Find out more about Diane, Hamlet, and Pio on her website.

 

 

 

 

 

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To Live & Write in FLA– Joanna Campbell Slan

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I have known Joanna Campbell Slan for almost ten years. We met at SleuthFest in 2006. She was folding origami while we waited in the audience for the panel to begin. Whenever I think of her, the picture of a woman always making something pops into my mind. Creative is not a strong enough adjective to describe Joanna’s skills and talents. Not only is she a well-known scrapbook aficionado and miniaturist, but she weaves amazing plots. I love the Kiki Lowenstien series, now at book twelve. Kiki is a complex woman of strength, a lot like the author. Joanna has a series on its third book, Cara Mia Delgatto,  which is set in Florida. She has intertwined the two characters in her latest release  the Kiki and Cara Mia Christmas Collection.  And then there are the anthologies she edits and her historical series and … As you can see this lady is a  tidal wave of talent. So, on to the interview–

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How long have you lived in FLA?

Actually, I was born in Jacksonville, but my parents moved us to Indiana when I was a baby. I’ve been back as a full-time resident of Jupiter Island since 2010.

Where do you write and when?

Anywhere, everywhere, all the time.  Seriously, I do.  I use a notebook computer for its portability. Because I’m on the computer all day, I like being able to move from room to room, or even to go outside.  I write every day unless I have an event or a project. Right now I’m working on my entry for the 2016 Creatin’ Contest, a miniature contest, so I’m not putting in my usual hours at work. That said, this year I’m releasing four original books and four anthologies with other authors, for a total of eight titles.

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Joanna won Honorable Mention in 2015

for her “Big Wave Dave’s Surf Shop”.

 

What is your biggest failure and what did it teach you?

You don’t have room or time for me to list all my big failures. I fail nearly as much as I succeed. But I can’t remember one specific failure that outranks all the rest, and here’s the reason for that—it doesn’t matter. What matters is getting up, starting over, and moving forward. That’s the lesson I’ve learned over and over. You’re only “out” if you stay down.

What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?  Or do you have some personal writing advice to offer?

Wendy Corsi Staub once told me to keep writing that next book. Each new book sells the old ones. She was right! Plus, you get better and better as you rack up more experience. The more I write, the better I get.

Who is your Dead Dream Date and why?  (Literary or otherwise)

I’d love to have lunch or dinner with Terry Gross or Diane Rehm because they’ve interviewed the most important people of our generation.

Oh, please invite me to that dinner party. Both those ladies are great.

Favorite cocktail or N/A drink and at what Florida bar?

My favorite is Campari and orange, and I prefer drinking it while on a yacht, because I first had one on a yacht at the Cote d’Azur.  It was such a thrill that I still order this cocktail as a way to bring back a fun, once-in-a-lifetime event.

I love Campari with grapefruit juice but I’ve never had one on a yacht!

You’ll find all of Joanna’s social media links on her website along with links to her books. She often has contest, giveaways, and freebie short stories. So, stay connected with her via her newsletter.

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To Live & Write in FLA- Allison Horton

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I’ve known Allison Horton for about two years. We run into each other at literary events like the Miami Book Fair and we’ve been meaning to have a non-work lunch. (Allison, I promise will go to a place with mojitos!) I am very interested in learning more about her and her life before South Florida. She is a journalist by training and contributes to area publications like the Miami Herald and Ft. Lauderdale magazine. She’s also created a bi-weekly newsletter to inform people of color about business and technology opportunities in South Florida.  Allison is currently working her first mystery novel. (And I can’t wait to be a beta reader for it.)

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How long have you lived in FLA?

I’ve lived in Florida for nearly three years.

Where do you write and when?

I usually write in my favorite easy chair recliner during the afternoon.

What is your biggest failure and what did it teach you?

Not being accepted as a writing fellowship for a Chicago newspaper.  I learned that I needed more training so I went back to school and obtained my master’s degree in journalism.  A few years later, I wrote several articles for the publication.

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What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?  Or do you have some personal writing advice to offer?

The best advice I received was to stick to the message or goal of the story you are writing.  If it doesn’t, cut it out and get back on topic.scissors

Who is your Dead Dream Date and why?  (Literary or otherwise)

Agatha Christie.  She is one of my favorite authors.  She takes you on a journey and slowly exposes the motivations of her characters and you don’t see it coming.

Favorite cocktail or N/A drink and at what Florida bar?  

Mojito.  Anywhere!

 

If you are a South Floridian in the tech industry please check out Allison’s Biztech411 newsletter.