Friday, January 29, 2016

Interview with Katherine Hayton

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Katherine Hayton, author of mystery novels to include Found Near Water, Breathe and Release, Skeletal and her latest offering, The Three Deaths of Magdalene Lynton

To kick things off, I asked Katherine to provide her author bio. So, here’s a bit about her: 
Katherine Hayton is a 42-year-old woman who works in insurance, doesn't have children or pets, can't drive, has lived in Christchurch her entire life, and resides a two-minute walk from where she was born. For some reason, she's developed a rich fantasy life. 
Your latest book, The Three Deaths of Magdalene Lynton, has been submitted for review under the Kindle Scout program and is not yet available for purchase. Could you give readers an idea of what this story is about? 
Forty years ago Magdalene Lynton drowned in a slurry. She choked to death on animal excrement as her hands scrabbled for purchase on the smooth concrete walls. A farmhand discovered her bloated body three days later.
Except, Paul Worthington just confessed to her murder.
Forty years ago Magdalene Lynton died in a dirty shed. He smothered her life along with her cries for help as he tore the clothes from her body. He tossed her defiled corpse into a river when he was done.
Except, as Detective Ngaire Blakes investigates the death she discovers clues that won’t piece together with either version. Gaps, inconsistencies, lies.
Forty years have eroded more than memories. Is it possible to uncover the third death of Magdalene Lynton when time has eaten away at the evidence? And will the person responsible let her live long enough to try?
What genre are your books? 
Mystery books
What draws you to this genre? 
I’ve always loved reading mysteries because I like a bit of gore and figuring out puzzles. It’s always such a thrill when you work out who did it and even more when you can’t. 
Have you ever considered writing stories for other genres?
I did try my hand at writing romance for a while but my characters kept getting into scrapes and getting themselves murdered so I thought for their sakes I’d better change genre. 
When did you first discover your passion for writing?
I remember being eight years old and using an old typewriter to make up stories or copying other people’s trying to work out how they did it. Time always flew by when I was doing this and I think that’s the key to passion. Becoming so absorbed that you lose track of everything else, including time. 
What inspires your stories?
Usually just a random thought that floats across my mind. If one snags to the point that I start asking questions and developing answers that’s usually the one that triggers the next novel 
Do you have a special routine or ritual when you sit down to write?
I just sit on the couch with my laptop and try to get my word count for the day. 
What is the best part about being a writer?
Having people read my work and enjoy it in the same way I did when the ideas were coming together. 
Yes, readers make it all worthwhile.
What is the worst part about being a writer?
Trying not to be distracted by everything else that the world has to offer. I’d block the Internet but the only time I did that I found I use it all the time for researching little details as I go along, so that wasn’t much of a goer. 
Do you ever feel self-conscious when writing love or sex scenes? Why or Why not? 
My characters don’t have sex! There’s murder going on. 
Haha! It's good they have their priorities set.
Do you write for yourself or to what you believe your readers want?
I write to solve the puzzles that arise in my own mind and I keep going until they resolve in a satisfactory way. I don’t have any idea of what readers want so I figure if they like my books and I like my books then I’ll just keep on writing what I enjoy and that should all work out. 
What do you do to get book reviews?
I use NetGalley to list them (Found, Near Water is on there at the moment), which is a service that provides free copies to reviewers, librarians and media to read and review. I also ask readers to review, either through my newsletter or at the end of each book. 
How successful has your quest for reviews been so far? 
I feel it’s going okay, though of course every one more that my books receive make it easier for readers to know if it’s the book for them. 
How do you deal with negative reviews? 
Reviews are written for other readers not for authors, so I don’t really deal with them at all. If someone doesn’t like it then it’s fair they warn other readers of what they found off-putting. Otherwise, readers may buy my work with the wrong expectations and that’s not good for them or for me. 
That is an excellent way to look at reviews!
Do you find promoting your books challenging or enjoyable?
I find it a bit of both. Most of the time it’s hard work to get my books out there and noticed, but at the same time it’s marketing that draws readers in and getting to know them better makes it worthwhile. 
What are you currently working on?
I’m in the middle of writing a trilogy of books. The first one is The Three Deaths of Magdalene Lynton which is on the Kindle Scout site at the moment and the second is As Yet Untitled and about halfway through being written. It’s been interesting to work out a series as until now I’ve written stand-alone books but when I reached the end of the first book I realized there was still a lot for readers to know about the main character and I needed a longer format to show that, so my series was born. 
Would you like to give readers a bit of a teaser for your latest work? 
If readers go to the Kindle Scout site ( before the 5th of February, they can read an excerpt of the first 5,000 words. Or they can sign up to my newsletter on my website and gain access to a three-chapter excerpt downloadable to their e-reading device of choice. 
What advice would you give to aspiring authors? 
I like Dorothy Parker's advice on this subject: “If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy.” 
That's a great quote!

Well, thank you so much for carving out some precious writing time to let readers get to know you. Where can they go to learn more about you and your work? 

Amazon Author Page:

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Bad Experiences Make Great Stories

Have you ever had something bad happen to you and you couldn't stop thinking about it - playing the events over and over in your head and wishing you'd done things differently. This is the story of my life. Fortunately, I stumbled upon a remedy - I decided to write a story about it. So, please enjoy "Having a Bad Day": 
I was stopped at a traffic light on my way to the mall, joking and laughing with my mom and sister. Suddenly, the sound of a man yelling profanities out of his window caught our attention. I turned to see what the commotion was about, only to discover he was yelling at me! 

“What the hell is your problem?” I yelled back, knowing I'd done nothing wrong and didn't even know the jerk. 

Well, that was about as effective as spitting gas on a blowtorch. Quickly realizing it got me nowhere, I decided to try and ignore him. Though this proved easier in theory as the red light blazed mockingly. Forced to listen at his persistent bellowing, my blood pressure quickly escalated. 

My nails bit into the steering wheel. Anger turned to fear, fear turned to anger. Finally, I snapped - enough was enough!
When the light changed, I pushed the pedal to the floor - racing alongside him.

"Are you crazy?" yelled
my sister beside me.
"Sweetie, calm down," came my mom from the back seat.

I knew they were scared, but I was determined to give this menacing ass a piece of my mind.

When the road narrowed to two lanes, I sped ahead of him, slammed on my brakes, and drifted ninety degrees before coming to a stop. Forced to break, the man's truck halted abruptly a few yards away. My sister clawed at my arm, both her and my mom screaming for me to stop as I jumped out. 

The man leapt from his truck and marched toward me - yelling even more furiously than before. He was the typical small man, big truck type - only inches taller than me and maybe forty pounds heavier. I walked up briskly, but fully composed when I faced him. His face turned multiple shades of red as he slung words I’d never heard before - foaming bits of saliva shooting from his lips.

Struck with a sudden urge, I drew my right arm back, like stretching an invisible bow. With a quick burst, I released my fist - bashing the man squarely in the eye. He stumbled backward, wide eyed, chin to his chest, staring at me. For the first time since our very brief acquaintance, he had nothing to say. 

Without speaking, I turned and walked back to my car. Calmly, I put on my seat belt and adjusted my review mirror - seeing my mom’s shocked expression gazing back at me. After glancing over at my sister, I looked ahead and smiled.

"So, are we ready for some shopping?" I asked cheerfully.
Now, did any of this actually happen? Well, the screaming jerk was real. But, and I know you'll find this hard to believe, the rest of the story was made up - inspired by how I imagined the situation was resolved. What really happened? Well, I did yell back and then flipped him off. Not quite as interesting, huh? And certainly nowhere near as satisfying. 

Of course, I would never have risked confronting the guy. That's why writing about it was such a great alternative. It gave me the ending I really wanted without serving time in jail.

So, if you ever have a bad day that doesn't end exactly how you'd like it to, write a story. It's cheap therapy and may help to get the juices flowing for your work in progress.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Interview with author Mercedes Fox

I am delighted to debut my Author Spotlight with Mercedes Fox, author of Horror/Thriller titles to include Vengeance of the Werewolf, Poaching the Immortal, and Life After. 

To get started, I asked Mercedes to tell readers a little about herself. Here's what she had to say:
I’m married for 22 years and the proud mamma to three dogs. I’ve published three books. I love werewolves so my books revolve around them. I write horror/thriller/splatterpunk; my books are explicit in everything from sex to killing. I write what I like to read. I enjoy reading, movies, shopping with my mother and benchrest shooting.
That's great! I'm an animal mamma too. They make the best children, haha!
I see you use a pen name. Any special reason for it and the name you chose?  
I like the name and answering to it. I used this name when I played online RPGs. I love the name Mercedes.
Mercedes is a great name. It reminds me of "Count of Monte Cristo".
So, can you give us a little blurb about your latest book?   
Welcome to Wolfcreek. Werewolves are both neighbors and law enforcement. Ted could use a vacation. Life’s been rough since the horrific events in Vengeance of the Werewolf. He loves hunting. A trip to Alaska on a full guided hunt guarantees Ted will feel human again. Otherwise who knows what could happen if he can’t keep his wolf in check. Extreme violence and gore.
What genre are your books? 
I put them in horror – thriller – splatterpunk –shock horror. I pick these because my kill scenes are pretty violent.
What draws you to this genre? 
I’ve always loved to read horror, specifically werewolf or occult horror.
Have you ever considered writing stories for other genres? 
Sure have. I’m not only trying to figure out the process of outlining but I also want to write a suspense mystery. Ya know the kind that keeps you on the edge of your seat.
When did you first discover your passion for writing? 
Back in my teenage years. Long ago in a galaxy far and away.
How long have you been writing? 
Serious writing and publishing I’ve done for four years.
What inspires your stories? 
My wild imagination. I’m pretty good at scaring the hell out of myself.
Oh yes! I fear that would be one downside of a vivid imagination.
Do you have a special routine or ritual when you sit down to write? 
No, but I’m bound and determined as my New Year’s resolution to get a routine.
What is the best part about being a writer? 
I get to make stuff up. I can get revenge on people who tick me off. Basically I get away with murder :)
Haha! That's great! 
What is the worst part about being a writer?
The evil entity known as marketing.
Ugh! Marketing is the worst!
You mentioned that your books have explicit sex scenes. Do you ever feel self-conscious when writing love or sex scenes? Why or Why not?
Nope, not at all. You can ask me anything and I’ll answer without blushing. I like sex, who doesn’t. We all do it. I’m shy when it concerns bowel movements.
Yeah, bowel movement convos make me a tad uncomfortable too.
What do you do to get book reviews?

I don’t. Most of the authors I’ve interviewed on my blog offer free book copies in exchange for reviews. When I released Vengeance of the Werewolf I shipped a few paperback copies to folks who said they’d read it and leave a review. It never happened. On rare occasion I’ll read an ARC in exchange for a review, but only concerning books to improve my craft. I figure someone will leave a review, eventually.
How do you deal with negative reviews? 
Back in the day, four years ago, I got my feathers ruffled. I’d take it personal. I’d stomp around being angry. Then it hit me. The worst review I feel I’ve had came from a man who couldn’t handle my very strong female main character. I’m pretty sure women scare him.
Haha! More so than werewolves I wonder?
Do you have a marketing strategy when announcing your books? 
I tried doing pre-orders with Poaching the Immortal. It didn’t go so well because the release date I picked didn’t work out. I had some issues in the release and it took almost a month longer. I will post excerpts on my blog of what I’m working on. That’s about all I do to market it.
Was there any technique in particular that had the best or most immediate impact on your sales? If so, would you care to share it? 
I’ve had my best luck with Twitter and my blog. The key to Twitter is to not spam your book. I only tweet a couple tweets a day about my book. My other tweets are about my blog, new author interviews, quotes, and retweets of folks I’m following. I also pick the brains of my followers. I like to run ideas by them. It was on Twitter resulting from my asking about software others used to write that I discovered Scrivener. Now granted I didn’t sell a zillion copies just because my followers know I’m really a human but I’m really just trying to get my brand out there and building a following. Once that happens they’ll check out my books and voila…success.
Do you find promoting your books challenging or enjoyable? 
It was bad when I didn’t have a clue what to do. I’ve tried Facebook ads, Goodreads ads, scouring the net for werewolf groups, etc etc. It was exhausting. Then I figured out to stick with the top three sites I use the most and build my name there. And now it’s rather exciting. My blog is taking off. I’m meeting loads of great authors. I’m learning some things along the way, because we don’t all do the same things. I’ve found followers on Twitter really do respond when you build that relationship. My biggest challenge, I have trouble getting myself off Twitter. I get all excited tweeting and talking and pretty soon its 1:00am.
I used to fear Twitter, but now, like you, I find I’m addicted!
Did you make any marketing mistakes or is there anything you would avoid in the future? 
My biggest mistake was paying a vanity publisher to do… what did they do… oh that’s right… they didn’t do squat except take my money. I never went crazy on ads, I gave them a try and took it from there. Don’t buy the ads, build your brand, interact with your audience, don’t force your book down their throats. And don’t pay anyone, it won’t make a difference.
That’s good advice. Many of us indie authors just don’t have the budget to buy ads.
What do you think of traditional publishing vs. self-publishing? 
I’m scared of traditional publishing. I don’t want to submit my baby over and over. I don’t do rejection. I’m not going to sell my rights on my baby to a publisher who’s going to tell me how I should write it or change it. Nope. Not going to happen. When I discovered self-publishing I knew I could be an author on my terms. I don’t like being told what to do by anybody.
Would you say there is a stigma to being self-published? 
Why? I don’t think so. I’m doing it my way, no monkey on my shoulder and I’m doing all the work. I create the cover, the blurb on the back, hire an editor, file the copyright, promote myself, maintain everything about it. It’s a big job, but it’s mine and it’ll stay that way. I just learned in the last couple of days, many of the authors I’ve met that have a traditional publisher still have to promote themselves and their books. Because for some reason beyond me, the publisher won’t do it. I see no shame in self-publishing, provided you do it right. When done right, unless the buyer scrolls down to see who the publisher is it’s seamless.
I agree completely. Self-publishing is the way to go!
Do you have a favorite author? 
JK Rowling
Ooo, me too! 
What are some of your favorite books and why? 
- Harry Potter—I love the story, I love slipping into the wizarding world.
-The Bartimaeus Sequence—More magic here and humor and adventure.
-The Circle Trilogy (Nora Roberts)—more magic and beautiful love story.
-The Howl Series (JK Brandon, self-published too)—Taser and Meatloaf’s adventures are irresistible.
What are you currently working on? 
Vengeance of the Werewolf book 3. I have excerpt on the first page of my blog (
Would you like to give readers a bit of a teaser? 
The MC is principal Nico Howell, from the first book. His daughter has been stolen. But why and how did he break his arm and why are dogs afraid of him?
Well, those are all of the questions I have for you. Thank you so much for taking time out to answer them and letting reader's get to know the person behind your books! Where can readers go to learn more about you and your work? 


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Getting Noticed

I have no shortage of stories to tell. That's never been a problem. But, as an independent author, I find it a bit challenging when it comes to marketing my book. I've never been a good sales person. Though I shouldn't be surprised considering most writers are introverts. 

So, how does one go about spreading the word  on their first book when they'd rather be writing their next book? There are any number of resources out there claiming they have a fool proof way to getting your book noticed. Yet, of everything I've read so far, none of them are without a laundry list of things you have to do.

Of course, there is always social media like Twitter and Facebook. While I found Twitter to be a great resource for meeting fellow authors, I've yet to see anything in the way of sales generated from there. As for Facebook, well, I've sold a few copies to friends and family, but, again, nothing that will allow me to quit my job and write full time.

The only compelling piece of advice I've picked up so far is, "The best way to sell your first book is to write the second one." Well, I can do that! It's what I prefer to do anyway. The reason writing your second book is so important is that it tells readers that you are serious about writing. It is a bit of mystery on how this works, but readers seem to gravitate to authors they know they can follow for a while.

I get it. I think I've caught myself doing this too. If an author only has one book and I fall in love with it, I'll be crushed if I have no way of knowing if the affair is over or not. Some readers prefer only to read books that are part of a series. So, if your book is part of a trilogy or saga, they may not start reading until they know the second or even third one is available.

As far as marketing goes, I've never really been into high pressure, in your face sales tactics. I prefer to let people get to know me and decide for themselves if my book is something they'd be interested in reading. Sure, I may never strike it rich that way, but it allows me to write without feeling anxious.

So, how do people get to know me? Again, that requires putting myself out there. But, that is something I'm willing to do in this case. I accomplish it by writing a blog and participating in author interviews. It feels more natural to write posts and talk about my books and what inspires me to write.

I did my very first author interview recently with Mercedes Fox Books. It was a lot of fun and even taught me a few things about myself. Plus, I think it is an excellent way to get the word out about who I am and what I offer the reading community. In fact, I thought it was such a great idea, I decided to do some author interviews of my own!

So, every Friday, I am going to feature a new author. In each interview, I am going to ask questions ranging from how they got inspired to write their stories to how they handle the marketing of their books. Authors and readers alike will find something interesting in each interview. I hope you'll come back often and check them out!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Reading & Writing

I enjoy reading. That's a good thing considering it is one of the essential aspects of writing. Thing is, most of what I've been reading lately consists of my own stories. And, while I enjoy them (one should hope) I figured it was important to get a little variety. Not to mention, it's interesting to see what other writers are doing.

So, I dusted off my GoodReads Profile and created a reading goal for myself. I'm hoping that, by the end of the year, I will have read 50 books. To some, that may sound too easy. But, you have to know, I work full-time and I'm writing every spare moment in between. So, in order to achieve my reading goal, I'm carving out precious writing time to do so.

I don't see it as a huge sacrifice though. I've already finished the first book for the year and it was very interesting. It was Asylum by Madeleine Roux. It is a creepy thriller about a boy who goes to a college prep program over the summer before senior year. I'll admit, it took a few chapters before I was invested in the story. But, after giving it a chance (and I'm glad I did) I found it very engaging and finished it in two nights. I look forward to reading the second book, Sanctum

So, what about you? Do you have any reading goals this year? If you do and you haven't done so already, I recommend signing up with GoodReads. It's a great way to keep track of what you've read and want to read. Plus, it's a great place to get recommendations and connect with people who share your reading interests. Who knows, I might be one of them!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

New Year's Magic

I used to wake up on New Year's morning actually expecting to see something different. As if a new year meant a new life. I suppose, metaphorically, that is what resolutions are about - making a new life for yourself by changing the one you had. But, where's the magic in that? The kid in me wants to see something different.

If you think about it, Christmas has decorations and presents, Easter has baskets filled with candy, Thanksgiving has its feasts. But, what does New Years have other than hangovers? I could have been doing it wrong all these years, but maybe I just need to start a new tradition. I haven't quite worked out the details on what it might be, but I'm sure I'll figure something out.

In the meantime, I see tons more writing in the new year. My second book, Full Bloom, will hopefully be published within the next couple of months and I have the next two books in the Flower Child Saga queued up. I've also been writing the plots of two to three other stories that go in a completely different direction. I'm really excited about those.

Well, while nothing looks different so far in 2016, it certainly feels different - like anything could happen. Having something to look forward to does that to a person. Maybe, just maybe, that's where the New Year's magic is hidden.