Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Fifteen Fun Facts: Linda O. Johnston

This week, Midnight Ink presents Fifteen Fun Facts about Linda O. Johnston, author of the Superstition mysteries. Her latest, Knock on Wood, was released earlier this month.

1. I'm a cynophilist.
2. I'm addicted to Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.
3. I met my first Cavalier on the London Underground on my first trip to London.
4. Unsurprisingly, my favorite mysteries to write, and to read, contain pets, particularly dogs.
5. I wrote two cozy mystery series starring dogs and other pets before I started the two series I write for Midnight Ink: the Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter series, and its spinoff Pet Rescue Mysteries.  The two series I write for Midnight Ink are the Superstition Mysteries and the Barkery & Biscuits Mysteries.
6. I happily live in Los Angeles but considered myself a displaced Pittsburgher for years.
7. My current Midnight Ink release, KNOCK ON WOOD, is my forty-first published novel.
8. I also currently write romance novels--paranormal romance for Harlequin Nocturne and romantic suspense for Harlequin Romantic Suspense.
9. I'm a happy wife, mother, grandma and dog mom.
1o. I'm a chocoholic.  Dark chocolate?  Yum!
11. J'ai étudié le français pendant douze ans quand j'étais une jeune fille, mais I don't really speak French now.  (I almost got that correct on my own,  although I did double check it.)
12. I used to really enjoy writing  and negotiating contracts when I was a practicing real estate attorney and consider contracts another form of fiction.
13. I love to do crossword puzzles.
14. My first published novels were time travel romances.
15. My first published fiction was a short story in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine and won the Robert L. Fish Award for best first mystery short story of the year.

Knock on Wood is available online and in bookstores now!

Midnight Ink | Indiebound | Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Your local bookstore

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Fifteen Fun Facts: Kathleen Ernst

This week, Midnight Ink presents Fifteen Fun Facts about Kathleen Ernst, author of the Chloe Ellefson mysteries. Her latest, Death on the Prairie, was released earlier this month.

1. I wrote my first novel 20 years before I sold a novel to a publisher.
2. I’ve been a vegetarian for over 40 years.
3. I also know how to turn hog intestines inside-out with a knitting needle to make sausage casings.
4. My husband and I got married twice:  once in my sister’s back yard, and once wearing 1860s attire in an old church, surrounded by reenacting friends.
5. Once I won a blue ribbon in a Jack-and-Jill crosscut saw competition.

6. After graduating from college, I went backpacking for 2 months on the Appalachian Trail.
7. I love amphibians.
8. My vegetable garden generally has a jungle-like appearance because I hate to thin or top anything.
9. I am a middle child, which explains a lot.
10. I do not Tweet.  Ever.
11. Several times a year, I go on writing retreats with my cat.  I once spent a week in a cabin with only a small woodstove for heat while the outside temp dipped to -20.  And got a lot of writing done.

12. For ten years, before becoming a full-time book writer, I developed and scripted instructional video programs for public television.
13. I would rather drive from coast to coast than spend half an hour driving in a congested urban area.
14.  Years ago, when  my husband developed my first website, I refused to let him post a photograph of me.  Yes, I got past that.
15. I’m a pretty good writer, but still cannot find the words to adequately express my gratitude to all of the readers, editors, family members, etc. who make it possible for me to do what I love! 

Death on the Prairie is available online and in bookstores now!

Midnight Ink | Indiebound | Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Your local bookstore

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Fifteen Fun Facts: Sheila Webster Boneham

This week, Midnight Ink presents Fifteen Fun Facts about Sheila Webster Boneham, author of the Animals in Focus mysteries. Her latest, Shepherd's Crook, was released earlier this month.

1. Fiction, memoirs, poetry, essays—I love books of all kinds.
2. I entered my first dog show (obedience trial) with my Lab, Raja, in 1994. We didn’t qualify, but we had fun.
3. Before dog shows, there were horse shows.

4. I studied in Egypt and taught at universities in Tunisia and Kuwait in the 1970s & 80s. I brought a dog home from Tunisia.
5. Folklore and cultural anthropology—my PhD.
6. Since 2009, we’ve lived in Indiana, Nevada, and North Carolina. Where next?
7. Birds and flowers—some of my favorite photographic subjects.

8. Long walks. No ear buds.
9. Tea! Especially blackberry sage or ginger.
10. I paint (but not as much as I’d like to)—mostly watercolor, some colored pencil and oil.

11. Nectarines and cranberries. Not at the same time.
12. Dogs I’ve lived with—Chihuahuas, Labrador Retrievers, mixed breeds, Scottish Deerhound, Miniature Schnauzers, Irish Wolfhound, Golden Retriever, and, of course, Australian Shepherds.
13. Long train trips—days at a time.
14. And cats! Long hair, short hair, a rainbow of colors.

15. Busy cafes and music through my earphones—best writing environment for me.

Shepherd's Crook is available online and in bookstores now!

Midnight Ink | Indiebound | Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Your local bookstore

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Four Superb Mysteries Are Out Today!

Don't miss Midnight Ink's latest releases!

"Fans of Laura Ingalls Wilder will savor the facts . . . Ernst does an exceptional job of sharing the kinds of character details that cozy readers relish."
Booklist on Death on the Prairie

Publishers Weekly (starred review) on The Question of the Unfamiliar Husband

"Features likable characters and an immersive plot to keep cozy fans turning the pages."
Library Journal on Knock on Wood

"A woolly tale sure to delight both animal lovers and mystery fans."
Sparkle Abbey, author of the Pampered Pet Mysteries, on Shepherd's Crook

Now available from Midnight InkBarnes & NobleAmazonIndiebound, and your local bookseller!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Fifteen Fun Facts: Jeff Cohen/E.J. Copperman

This week, Midnight Ink presents Fifteen Fun Facts about Jeff Cohen (otherwise known as E.J. Copperman), author of the Asperger's Mysteries. His latest, The Question of the Unfamiliar Husband, will be out tomorrow!

1. I am an unapologetic New York Yankees fan.
2. I have owned three rescue dogs. The current one is a beagle named Gizmo.
3. I can play an almost-decent version of “Here Comes the Sun.”
4. One of my children teaches algebra in the Bronx.
5. I once sold a pretzel to Yogi Berra.
6. I spent 20 years writing screenplays with various degrees of no success.
7. I will not eat fish. No. Not even that one.
8. I played Barnaby Tucker in “The Matchmaker” in high school. Killed.
9. I’m not fat. I’m just the wrong height.
10. I am a feminist. In fact, I might be two feminists.
11. I spend hours playing Mac Brickout but I’m really writing.
12. I drive two Priuses (Prii?). Not at the same time.
13. My town has a Kosher Dunkin Donuts.
14. I’m allergic to rabbits.
15. Currently I’m listening to Circe Link. But Paul Melancon and A.J. Croce are great, too.

Purchase The Question of the Unfamiliar Husband online and in bookstores everywhere!

Midnight Ink | Indiebound | Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Your local bookstore

Visit Jeff (slash E.J.) online.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Fifteen Fun Facts: Mark Stevens

This week, Midnight Ink presents Fifteen Fun Facts about Mark Stevens, author of the Allison Coil mysteries. His latest, Lake of Fire, was released earlier this month.

1.  I think any meal that involves jalapenos is a good one.
2. I write my first drafts by hand. In old-school notebooks. With a pen.
3. I’m the son of two librarians. (There are very few of us, based on my sampling of the generation population. We are a lucky bunch. Anyone who grows up learning to love to read is lucky.)
4. I covered the devastating 1985 earthquake in Mexico City. I got there in time to ride out a magnitude 7.5 aftershock. I will never forget the sensation.
5. I used to play bass in a band that opened for Styx at the corn festival in western Colorado.
6. I know one really good card trick. I’ve known it since I was about eight years old. I don’t know any others. It’s really easy to learn and it works.
7. I am a big fan of Patricia Highsmith and have read both biographies plus all of Highsmith’s fiction. I’m glad she’s getting her due. Read Suspension of Mercy if you get a chance.
8. I’m a big fan of John Updike and read the terrific biography last year by Adam Begley. True, Patricia Highsmith and John Updike don’t have much in common. Except that they both make you want to keep reading.  Read the “Rabbit” books if you get a chance.
9. I was married in a double wedding.
10. I’ve visited every state. It’s a fluke. It wasn’t a “thing.”
11. I still root for The Colorado Rockies. It doesn’t get much sadder or pathetic than that. I mean, I watch games in September when it hasn’t mattered for a long, long time.
12. I like Project Runway and Top Chef. I’m a sucker. Face Off is really good, too.
13. Give me any reality TV show about survival and I’m there. A friend just turned me on to Alone. The old show Survivorman inspired one of my characters, Devo. Devo plays a big role in my new book, Lake of Fire.
14. Cracker is my all-time favorite band. I will travel a long, long way to see that band. But in late August, they played in Nederland, Colorado. (Here’s a pic I took at that show.) I think David Lowery, the guy on the right, knows the secret to the universe. He's just not telling us.

15. I once was the babysitter for two brothers in the town where I grew up (Lincoln, Mass.) One of the brothers was a 7-year-old. His name was John Flansburgh. John went on to form a terrific band, They Might be Giants. I was a fan of the band’s first album long before I figured out, “hey, I know that guy.” John and his pal John Linnell opened up rock and roll in a whole new lyrical and tuneful way, to my way of thinking. Check out “Birdhouse in My Soul” or, an early one, “Don’t Let’s Start.” They are still making great, great music and they post free songs here every week.

Lake of Fire is available online and in bookstores now!

Midnight Ink | Indiebound | Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Your local bookstore

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Q&A with Sallie Bissell!

This week, we sat down with Sallie Bissell, author of the Mary Crow Novels. Her latest, A Judgment of Whispers, is out now!

Midnight Ink: How long have you been writing? 
Sallie Bissell: My parents gave me a typewriter the Christmas I was eight. I’ve been writing at something, ever since. I was an advertising copywriter for a while (this was in Nashville—I wrote radio commercials for the Grand Ole Opry). Then I was a ghost writer for Bonnie Bryant’s Saddle Club series.  I started seriously writing under my own name about twenty years ago.

MI: What influence have other authors had on your writing?
SB: I read all of William O. Steele’s work when I was a girl—that got me into the outdoor adventure mode, which I guess I’ve never really left. I learned a lot about the scope of a novel from Gail Godwin.  Pacing from Elmore Leonard. Language from John Steinbeck.  Suspense from Richard Wright—I think his Native Son is a masterpiece. Margaret Atwood, Barbara Vine and Sara Paretsky have also expanded my view of what fiction can accomplish.

MI: If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing? 
Sallie at work on her typewriter

SB: Something in art, probably. My mother was a painter and I have a modest bit of talent in that area.  I entered college as an art major. My faculty advisor looked greatly relieved when I transferred to the English Department! In my fantasy life, I’d like to be a jet pilot or Serena Williams.

MI: If you have a job outside of writing, what is it? 
SB: I’ve kept my hand in advertising, on a freelance basis. I love birds and I’m helping a local bird seed company expand its customer base. I write their newsletter and mind the shop a couple of afternoons a week. It’s fun and totally different from writing fiction.  Birders are interesting people, always with good stories to tell, usually about squirrels or bears.

MI: What is/are your favorite thing/s to do when you’re not writing or working? 
SB: I love to play tennis, and do so as often as I can. I’m also on a Trivia team that plays at a local restaurant once a week. Writers are good at trivia—we have minds that are stuffed with esoteric information, like what’s the longest river in Chile. I once catapulted the team to victory by knowing who wrote Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee. (Dee Brown.) I have no idea what the longest river in Chile is.

MI: Who is your favorite mystery sleuth and why? 
SB: Probably Sherlock Holmes. I think Conan Doyle took  themes that other writers (Poe, Dickins, Wilkie Collins) had touched on and made a terrific character. It was a perfect storm for success, in a way—you had spiritualism, industrial revolution, scientific discovery—plus the serial formal. The work has endured because the writing is good—the puzzles (plots) are ingenious and the characterizations are interesting, too.

MI: Do you have a favorite murder case from a book (either yours or another author’s)?
SB: My favorite murder case was one my aunt was questioned in (though not as a suspect).  It happened in Nashville in the early '70s and was only recently solved, and not to everyone’s satisfaction.  I used it as the basis for the murder in my next book, A Judgment of Whispers.  Older Nashvillians will know exactly what I’m talking about!

MI: What was your inspiration for this series?
SB: The idea of Mary Crow came about after I moved to Asheville, NC. I went from an urban lifestyle to a rural one, in the middle of the Appalachian Mountains. Also I’d never seen a Cherokee Indian before, and I became fascinated with their culture. In writing the first book, In The Forest of Harm, I re-entered the fictional world I’d loved so much as a girl—woods and forests and trails that led who knows where.

MI: Tell us about Mary Crow.
SB: Mary Crow is a woman of color; a woman with a foot in both the white urban Atlanta culture of her father and the rural Cherokee culture of her mother.  She was orphaned early and bears the scars of losing the people she’s loved. She is smart, a little to the introvert end of the spectrum and is beautiful when she smiles.  She has been in love with Jonathan Walkingstick since the day she first saw him, but can’t quite figure out how to live with him. She loves a good joke, drives a black Miata and owns a Glock 9 that she’s not shy about using. If you were in trouble, she’d help you out, then go kick the butt of whoever got you in trouble in the first place. She’s someone I’d love to have as a friend.


MI: How does this book/series compare to your past works?
SB: A Judgment of Whispers is the most reality based novel I’ve ever written. I use the above mentioned murder case, mixed with the autistic son of a dear friend of mine. Mostly, it’s a novel about how hard people can be on people whose only crime is being different.

MI: Do you have a pet? Tell us about him/her.
SB: I’m the proud owner of Peyton Manning Bissell, a rescue pup who has grown into my 70 pound personal body guard.  Also Princess Tingaling, a rescue cat. If Peyton were human he’d drive a pickup, drink Pabst beer and wear an orange Tennessee baseball cap. If Ting were human she’d sit on a throne and eat caviar with a little spoon. We have some fun times at our house.

Sallie and Peyton Manning Bissell

MI: If you don’t have a pet, do you have a favorite animal?
SB: I can’t think of an animal I don’t like, but I have a particular fondness for elephants and horses. Elephants because they are amazingly smart but overly hunted; horses because I’ve ridden them all my life. Animals, I think, behave far more decently than most humans.  I make a point not to hurt them in my books.

MI: What food could you live off of for the rest of your life?
SB: Pizza. Hot for dinner, cold for breakfast. It’s all good!

MI: Do you have a favorite recipe?
SB: There’s a pie we eat in Tennessee called Chess Pie. I got my grandmother’s recipe for it before she died, but I think she forgot a few key ingredients. Mine has never come out as good as hers did. I don’t make it often, since it has about ten million calories a slice.

MI: What’s your favorite part about being an Inker?
SB: Writing stories that people get excited about! The long haul of writing—the sitting down and working for hours and weeks and months is a lot like shouting down a well. It’s lonely, isolating and has driven braver folks than me over the edge. To have colleagues who care about your work and are looking forward to the next rabbit you pull out of your hat makes things a lot more fun!

A Judgment of Whispers is available online and in bookstores now!

Midnight Ink | Indiebound | Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Your local bookstore

Visit Sallie online here.