Chatting with the Pros: Interview with bestselling mystery author Gilly Macmillon

chatting with the pros

My “Chatting with the Pros” author guest this month is a New York Times bestselling mystery author with books translated in over twenty languages. Her success as a writer may have come as a surprise, but I’ll let her tell you about that. She currently has five published mystery/suspense novels, and is working on the sixth, I believe. Let’s see what she has to say on the writing of mysteries. Please help me welcome UK author Gilly Macmillan.

 

© Céline Nieszawer/Leextra

© Céline Nieszawer/Leextra


Kaye: Can you tell me about your author’s journey? How did you get to where you are today?

Gilly: I started to write when I was over 40 and I challenged myself to do 1000 words a day until I had finished an entire book. I faithfully recorded my word count each day until it was done. I polished the first three chapters and send them to a few agents. Two rejections followed swiftly, one agent didn’t reply but the fourth one I sent it to was interested enough to offer me representation. She and I worked on the book together for a year before she submitted it to publishers, and we were lucky enough to sell it very rapidly and in over 20 territories! The rest has followed from there. I write a book a year and try to keep things fresh, compelling and thrilling for myself and my readers.

Kaye: When did you know that you wanted to be an author?

Gilly: For many years I didn’t have a burning desire to write, I think because I was busy doing other things and life got in the way, but once my youngest son started school full time I wanted to see if I could challenge myself to write a novel. The idea sort of came out of the blue but perhaps it wasn’t that surprising because at that point I had been an obsessive reader for 35 years. I had a small window of opportunity before having to get a proper job, so I took it.

Kaye: Why do you write mystery? Why not romance, or western, or horror?

Gilly: I read very widely, but mystery books have always been a favorite, so I write what I would like to read.

Kaye: What element do you think is the most important in a mystery story? Why?

Gilly: That it creates an impulse in the reader to turn pages. This can come from great characters, a thrilling set up, tons of action or an intriguing plot, but it must be there.

Kaye: What is one thing your readers would never guess about you?

Gilly: I have no idea! I’m a fairly straightforward person so there’s probably not much they couldn’t guess.

Kaye: (So, there’s no mystery to the mystery author? Hmmm.) What is the biggest challenge in writing mystery for you? Why?

Gilly: Plot. I don’t plan ahead when I write and creating a well-paced, complex and intriguing plot is always my biggest challenge, especially as I like to keep things within the realms of believability.

Kaye: What is the most fun part of writing mystery? Why?

Gilly: I love creating new characters and devising a challenging scenario for them. It intrigues me to explore how ‘regular’ people might behave if placed in extreme situations and pushed to their limits.

Kaye: Your most recent release is The Nanny. What can you tell me about it?

81ul8HE96pL.SR160,240_BG243,243,243Gilly: When her beloved nanny, Hannah, left without a trace in the summer of 1988, seven-year-old Jocelyn Holt was devastated. Haunted by the loss, Jo grew up bitter and distant, and eventually left her parents and Lake Hall, their faded aristocratic home, behind.

Thirty years later, Jo returns to the house and is forced to confront her troubled relationship with her mother. But when human remains are accidentally uncovered in a lake on the estate, Jo begins to question everything she thought she knew.

Then an unexpected visitor knocks on the door and Jo’s world is destroyed again. Desperate to piece together the gaping holes in her memory, Jo must uncover who her nanny really was, why she left, and if she can trust her own mother…

Kaye: What is your biggest accomplishment to date in your writing career?

Gilly: Making bestsellers lists! It’s a dream come true!!

Kaye: Of all of your books, which one is your favorite? Why?

What She KnewGilly: I love them all for different reasons, but I think my favorite is my debut, What She Knew, because that was the book that launched my career and I put a lot of heart into it.

Kaye: How do you keep tension and suspense in your stories, so that readers will keep the pages turning?

Gilly: I work hard to come up with characters that I hope will be relatable and intriguing and then place them in a compelling situation, which subsequently evolves in a threatening, challenging or terrifying way. At the end of every day of work, I ask myself: will this turn pages? If the answer is ‘no’, I start over and do it again until I’m happy that both tension and suspense are maximised.

Kaye: Is there a common theme running through your books?

Gilly: I like to take a person or people who are in a relatable situation and make something very dramatic or difficult happen to them. A mother with a missing child, for example, or a teenager who has made a fatal mistake in her past which threatens to derail the new life her mother has carefully reconstructed for her, or perhaps a little girl whose nanny disappeared overnight without trace or explanation and reappears thirty years later in very mysterious circumstances. I love to explore dynamics within families, especially the parent child bond.

Kaye: What are you working on now? What is next for Gilly Macmillan?

Gilly: I’m working on a novel that feels like a journey into psychological horror. The main character is a female crime writer. That’s about all I can say for now!


I want to thank Gilly for sharing her craft today. I think it is fascinating that she can plot as she writes. When I try and do that, I find myself exploring avenues that lead to dead ends and have to backtrack a lot. You can learn more about Gilly Macmillan and her books on her website and Amazon Author page.


You can catch the monthly segment “Chatting with the Pros” on the third Monday of every month in 2019, or you can be sure not to any of the great content on Writing to be Read by signing up by email or following on WordPress.


“Murder on the Horizon”: A classic cozy in a contemporary setting

Murder on the Horizon

Murder on the Horizon, by M.L. Rowland is a cleverly crafted murder mystery set in a rural resort town 100 miles east of L.A. For Grace Kinkaid, aiding in an evidence search out in the blazing desert sun is all in a day’s work. But when the Timber Creek Search and Rescue Team turns up a pair of severed hands, her view of her rural resort town and the surrounding area is about to change. Her curiosity and circumstance lead her toward the answers, and she won’t stop until she learns the truth, even when she herself becomes a target.

I truly enjoyed this story. Rowland made me feel as though I knew Gracie and her friends, and she drew me into the story, causing me to keep the pages turning. In addition to being a good mystery, it addresses social issues such as prejudice and bigotry which are so prominent in today’s world. I give Murder on the Horizon five quills.

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Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.


Interview with mystery author Gerald Darnell

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My guest today has made a career from a single mystery series. He must be doing something right. His Carson Reno Mystery series consists of 18 books and still going strong. He was awarded the 2016 Indie Author Crime Master “Best Thriller/Suspense/Murder Mystery Author” for book 18, Lack of Candor. Let’s find out how he’s done it. Please help me welcome mystery author Gerald W. Darnell.


Kaye: Can you tell me about your author’s journey? How did you get where you are today as a writer?

Gerald: I began writing in college, but nothing serious. After college I published a couple of articles for outdoor magazines and then joined the working world.  I retired after 30 years in the computer industry and wrote my first non-fiction book (which I had been working on for about 15 of those years). It is mostly a bio about my life Don’t Wake Me Until It’s Time to Go. My Carson Reno series started after that – and 18 books later…here we are.

Kaye: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Gerald: Anything outdoors. I have a boat, and when I’m not riding I’ll be fishing.

Kaye: You describe what you write as “Fiction for Fun”. Can you clarify for my readers just what you mean by that?

Gerald: Sure. I use real places with semi-real characters (reflections of my friends or people I know) and tell a story that didn’t happen – but could have.

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Kaye: In your Carson Reno Mystery series each book is a stand-alone mystery, yet you claim they have character continuity across novels. How do you accomplish that?

Gerald: While the core characters might grow (as my writing grows) they change very little from book to book.  And each new book has enough new characters to keep any reader’s attention.

Kaye: Your latest book, Lack of Candor, received the 2016 Indie Author Crime Master award for best author in thriller/mystery/suspense category. Can you tell me a little about that book?

Lack of CandorGerald: It is set in 1962 with most of the story taking place in and around Memphis, Tennessee. A Sergeant with the Memphis Police Department is found dead only hours before his scheduled testimony before a grand jury. Was it suicide or was it murder? What was he going to testify about? A handwritten note left by the Sergeant and addressed to the District Attorney disappears. What was in the note? Was it a suicide note with information regarding his pending testimony or something else? A woman claiming to have information related to his planned testimony comes forward and seeks protection.
Carson is hired to look into the matter and provide protection to the mysterious woman, but protection from whom? The situation gets out of hand quickly, and Carson finds himself in trouble with most everybody involved. A dark cloud hangs over the truth, as he tries to determine the ‘good-guys’ from the ‘bad-guys’ from the ‘bad good – guys’.
This old fashion crime story takes Carson Reno and his crew on a complicated adventure, where it seems that no one is looking for a solution.

Kaye: What is the biggest challenge in writing mystery for you? Why?

Gerald: My time period (early 60’s) has its own challenge. Limited transportation, no cell phones, no CSI type of stuff to solve these crimes. Old black and white solutions to whatever Carson is involved in.

Kaye: What is the best part of writing mystery for you? Why?

Gerald: I’ll answer that by referring to what I tell other writers or wanna’be writers. Don’t write to get rich, but to enrich others.

Kaye: What time of day do you like to do your writing? Why?

Gerald: No particular time, but I prefer the evenings with a little ‘libation’ for inspiration.

Kaye: How do you decide on your titles? Where does this come in the writing process?

Gerald: Titles are always first and I have NO idea where they come from. My friends constantly ask the same question – wish I had a catchy answer.

Kaye: Of all of your books, which one is your personal favorite? Why?

Gerald: I have two and they are my most popular and best sellers – ‘Dead End’ and ‘Murder and More’.  I like the stories and I guess my readers do too.

 

 

Kaye: Many of the events in your stories are inspired by real life events. What was the strangest or most unusual inspiration you’ve ever had for a story?

Gerald: ‘Dead End’ involves a chase scene in a rural Arkansas area where I spent many years when I was younger. The snow, the dirt roads, the mud, the outdoor part of me enjoys that.

Kaye: There are 18 Carson Reno books, one book in your Jack Sloan series: Concrete Jungle, in addition to your autobiographical book, Don’t Wake Me Until It’s Time To Go. So, is Carson Reno on the way out and Jack Sloan on the way in? Or is there more Carson in the future?

Gerald: More Carson and maybe a little more Jack.  A work in progress.

Kaye: What are you working on now? What is next for Gerald W. Darnell?

Gerald: ‘The Disappearance of Robin Murat’ and it will be out before the end of this year (I hope).  No spoilers, but a big part of the story takes place in New Orleans – one of my favorite cities. A great place for mystery and ‘bad-guys’.


I want to thank Gerald for chatting with me today and sharing his experiences and advice. You can learn more about Gerald Darnell and his books at the links below.

Website: www.geraldwdarnell.com/

Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07NQRPXMW/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_tkin_p1_i5

Goodreads Author page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4521276.Gerald_W_Darnell

Lulu.com Spotlight: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/geralddarnell

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/geralddarnell


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“Broomsticks and Burials”: A paranormal cozy that’s fun to read

Broomsticks and Burials

Broomsticks and Burials, by Lily Webb, is a paranormal mystery cozy and a really fun read. Once you buy in to a magic place that only those with paranormal talents can see, the rest comes easy.

Zoe Clarke is an out of work journalist, and when she gets an offer to work on the newspaper in Moon Grove, she can hardly refuse, even though it requires her to pull up stakes and move to a town she’s never even seen on a map. Right away she notices something different about Moon Grove. Maybe it’s the anchorman who transforms from a wolf to show her around that tips her off, but she worries she may not be right for the job. After all, she has no paranormal talents, so she shouldn’t even be able to see Moon Grove. Or does she?

When she finds that her predecessor was murdered, creating the opening for her, she starts looking into the mysterious circumstances even though several people warn her off, a broken broomstick at the scene her only clue. But, once she gets started, the plot thickens and she just can’t stop until the mystery is solved and she’s discovered that she belongs in Moon Grove more than she ever could have imagined.

Broomsticks and Burials is a light-hearted cozy mystery that’s fun to read. I give it four quills.

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Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.


We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby!

WtbR Team

Looking back, I can remember when I first started this blog, back in 2010. I really had no idea what I was doing, or even what blogging was all about, but I knew I wanted to write and Writing to be Read offered a platform where someone might actually read what I wrote. Back then, I really struggled with what to write. I couldn’t imagine why anyone would care to read what I had to say. 

Since then, I’ve learned a lot. Acquiring an M.F.A. in Creative Writing, along with my experience as The Southern Colorado Literature Examiner, gave me the knowledge, skills and confidence to imagine that I could create content that people would want to read. I write about what I know. My passion has always been writing, thus that is what I write about.

In 2016, I decided that there was no way that I could produce enough quality content to keep fresh content and keep readers visiting the blog, so I began recruiting other talent. My knowledge was limited to my own writing experience and I wanted to expand the scope of the content. With the help of others who knew more about areas which I wasn’t versed in, I was able to do this.

My first team member was Robin Conley, and her “Writing Memos” are still bringing viewers to the blog, although she is no longer an active team member. Next, Jeff Bowles was added to the team, with two segments. Although he no longer does his “God Complex” segment, you can find “Jeff’s Pep Talk” on the first Wednesday of every month, and “Jeff’s Movie Reviews” posts on the third Friday. Jeff is great at writing motivational posts and he writes killer movie reviews, so if you haven’t checked out his segments, I recommend that you do.

This year, Art Rosch joined the team with his “The Many Faces of Poetry” segments the last Wednesday of each month, and he recently began posting for “Art’s Visual Media Reviews” on the last Friday. Both segments cover subject matter Art was versed in and his reviews are both interesting and entertaining. Also, joining the team in 2019 are Jordan Elizabeth, with her “Writing for a Y.A. Audience” segment on the third Wednesday of each month, which explores Jordan’s inspirations and writing experiences, and Robbie Cheadle with her “Growing Bookworms”, which emphasize the importance of reading for children and explores children’s literature.

In 2018, I ran two twelve week segments of “Ask the Authors”, which was quite popular, where I interviewed an author panel on the various aspects of writing. Although it was fairly successful, it was also a lot of work, and it required a lot of time from each of the authors on the panel in order to respond to my questions with depth and knowledge. The compilation of those segments is currently in process for the Ask the Authors anthology, to be published by WordCrafter Press.

In 2019, we’ve seen a little more structure as I added monthly genre themes to focus on specific genres, and added my “Chatting with the Pros” segment in coincidence with those. We also saw the first “WordCrafter Paranormal Story Contest”, which will result in the publication of the Whispers of the Past paranormal anthology, also by WordCrafter Press. (Jeff Bowles was the winner of the contest for his short story, “A Peaceful Life I’ve Never Known”. He received a $25 Amazon gift card and his story will be featured in the anthology.)

Writing to be Read is growing, and recently had its 500th post. View numbers are up, as well as followers, and I attribute it to the quality content posted by both myself and my team members. Of those 500 posts, 100 of them were made by Writing to be Read team members and I want to take time now to acknowledge and thank them for the quality contributions that they each make to the blog. Writing to be Read is a labor of love and team members don’t receive compensation for the time and dedication they put into their segments, so they really do deserve kudos for the content they provide. To show my appreciation and bring them and the blog segments each one contributes, I’ve created a “Meet the Writing to be Read Team Members” page, and I hope all of you will check it out and learn more about those who provide such great content.

This new page comes along with other new changes as I prepare to launch WordCrafter Quality Writing & Author Services. I’m happy to say that although some parts are still under construction, the website is now live. Write it Right Quality Editing Services, which used to be found here on this site, is now housed on the WordCrafter site, so if you are looking for it, you can now find it there. Other changes you may notice in the near future include the migration of my “Copywriting and P.A. Services” to the WordCrafter site, where it will become WordCrafter Social Media Copywriting and Book Promotions.

These are the most immediate changes which have taken place or are expected to before the end of the year on Writing to be Read. Closer to that time, I’ll be posting another update that will tell you what you can expect in 2020. Can you believe it? It’s just around the corner. So until then…

Happy Writing!

Kaye Lynne Booth, M.F.A.


“Death Among Us”: A collection of short fiction mysteries

Death Among Us

Death Among Us – An Anthology of Murder Mystery Short Stories, compiled and edited by Stephen Bentley is a curious collection of stories, indeed. As I’ve mentioned before, the problem with short fiction lies in telling a complete story in a condensed form, with beginning, middle and end, and it’s one of my peeves when I walk away from a short story and it doesn’t feel complete, or it feels as if it ended too abruptly, as if the author was in a hurry to wrap things up. Some of the stories in this collection are like that, and some were more telling than showing. A few I didn’t feel really fell into the category of murder mystery at all, but for the most part each one kept me engaged despite all that. (That’s another thing about short fiction; you don’t have to keep your reader engaged for a long period of time, but that also means that you have less time to hook them and reel them in.) And there were some stories in this collection, which I’ll talk about in a minute, that were really well written and I was able to immerse myself in from start to finish.

Of particular note, Michael Spinelli’s No Man’s Land is the tale of a desert manhunt for a gruesome serial killer. It’s well-crafted, and built tension and suspense all the way up to the surprise ending. The two stories by L. Lee Kane, A Deadly Lady and Stop Me If You Can, are really two parts of one tale of abuse and revenge, crafted so that the first part offers the motive for what happens in the second. And Justin Bauer kept me fully engaged clear through Sales Meeting, although I felt the ending was tied up a little too neatly. This is not to say that the other shorts in this collection weren’t good, but these three are the ones that stick out in my mind the most.

I will also mention that there are three stories included by Writing to be Read team member, Robbie Cheadle, in this murder mystery collection: Justice is Never Served, An Eye for an Eye, and The Murder of the Monk. Robbie’s stories are each inspired by factual historic events that have to make one wonder and tell the tales the way she imagines them to have happened.

Overall, this anthology was entertaining, (and, after all, isn’t that the point?). I give Death Among Us four quills.

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Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.


#Bookreview – Delilah a Frontier Romance by Kaye Lynne Booth

thumbnail.ebookvia #Bookreview – Delilah a Frontier Romance by Kaye Lynne Booth