Welcome

Stories have arcs. Characters have arcs. Writers have arcs. We write, we get better at our craft. We read, we get better at our craft. We interact with other writers and our readers, we get better at our craft. Whether you are a professional writer or just starting out. Hobby or career. We are all in this together. Welcome.

Contact: Elena Hartwell - elenahartwell@gmail.com and visit me on the web at www.elenahartwell.com

A Writer Leaves 2016 Behind

I've never been a fan of New Year's Resolutions. I am a fan of "goals." A resolution is a desire or commitment to do or not do something. A commitment to losing weight. A desire to get a new job.  A hope of not making the same mistakes one made last year. Big, vague concepts, often unrealistic.

A goal is a desire to achieve a specific outcome. It also connotes having a plan. Something actionable and concrete. That's why I think goals are more attainable than resolutions.

Some of you are thinking, "that's just semantics," and I say, yes, you're right, but semantics matter.

Words matter. Especially how you put them together, who you say them to, and your intention behind them.

We are all throwing around a lot of words these days without a lot of thought behind them. We react fast and furious, often on social media, sending words out to thousands of people. We share the "news" that turns out to be false. We get angry over things taken out of context, then have to stay in our angry place no matter what, because that justifies our reactions.

Some of this is because bad things have happened. We are afraid, and for good reason, but that doesn't mean we have to lose our ability to take a breath, see the good, research the truth, react from logic and reason instead of anger and fear. Sometimes we're angry over things that should anger us, but we don't have a plan in place about where to move on from there.


That might make me sound like a Vulcan, but that doesn't mean I'm wrong.

2016 has been a rough year for a lot of people. We've lost big name singers, actors, comedians, and writers. People who made the world better for the rest of us with their talent, drive, and ambition. Folks who risked failure, put themselves out there, and didn't let bad reviews or unkind words stop them from achieving their goals.

As we mourn the losses, let us not lose sight of what these people taught us. That our differences can be embraced. That it isn't one success that makes a career, it's success and failure and success and failure repeated over a lifetime.

We have each also had our own personal, private tragedies. No matter who we are, we all experience failures, deaths, injuries. We lose our jobs, marriages end, our work is rejected. These things matter even more deeply than the loss of a public figure.

But alongside those events, we also have our successes. The jobs that exceed our expectations. The marriages and relationships that remain strong, the good reviews. Those who recover from illness or injury and embrace life again.

As we move into 2017, there is a lot of anxiety about the future. Which leaves us with a choice. Do we focus on the negative or acknowledge the bad without letting it overwhelm us? Do we see beauty in the world as we fight to save it? Or do we miss out on what's still here? Do we celebrate the gains we have achieved in our lifetimes or only see the erosion?

When I think of 2016 I will remember a woman was positioned to be president for the first time in US history and won the popular vote by almost three million votes, and I will work to support women  moving forward. I will celebrate my LGBTQ friends who could marry, and continue to fight for their rights. I support refugees, immigrants, and asylum seekers who want to come to this country to work hard and build better lives for themselves and their families.

But my goal is also to go softly for a time. To contemplate the way forward. To listen, not just speak. To find the moments of Zen and beauty this world has to offer. To not get caught up solely in anger and fear, because then the bullies take my joy away and I'm not interested in letting them have that much power over me.

This isn't everyone's way. But for now, it's mine.

My wish for all of you for 2017 is that you achieve your goals or at least, and this may be more important, you are able to find them. We often wish for world peace at this time of year. That's a beautiful thought, but perhaps unrealistic today. So instead, this time, I wish for you a personal peace. A chance to find a place in your heart that is quiet.



I don't know what happens after we die, but I do know what happens during our lifetimes. We can either have a positive or a negative effect on others. We can be supportive or not. We can love fully or not. We can risk failure to achieve our heart's goals or we can fail to try. So I'll leave you with a few words from songwriter Tony Arata, who risked failure only to have success.

"Our lives are better left to chance, I could have missed the pain, but I'd have had to miss the dance." --Tony Arata


Dance my friends. Dance.


Writing in the Snow ... Ain't it a cold, cold world.

Beautiful day here in North Bend, Washington. The promised snow has arrived, along with a few downed trees and a short-lived power outage. Here's the current view outside my writing room window.

I'm waiting for the snow to melt before I drive out of my 'hood, so I didn't go to the gym. A free morning. I should be writing, right?

No, not so much. I've walked around outside in the snow. I've taken a lot of pictures, some of which have gone up on Facebook, so everyone else can see how cool our snow is. Which it is.

I took some video for my moment of Zen, snow falling on the middle fork of the Snoqualmie River.

Here's a picture of that, I can't post video here.

I've also looked at other people's pictures of snow, done a Facebook quiz on "recognizing animals," and watched my "2016 year in review."

Talked to my hubby on the phone while he drove in to Seattle, asking about the snow on the road. Texted the barn manager to check on the horses ... in the snow. They are doing fine. They have little heaters in their water bowls and get fed extra when it's cold.

Basically, I'm a kid on a snow day. I might as well admit I'm not really getting anything productive done. I did check on my Goodreads giveaway, which has been approved and will post up tomorrow, so I can give myself kudos for that.

But mostly, I'm sitting around finding all kinds of time-sucking things to do that have nothing to do with finishing Three Strikes, You're Dead.

I'm also eating sweets and drinking a lot of coffee, so there's that.

It's interesting to me how guilty not working can make me feel. Or maybe it's not guilt so much as a sense of total failure at being a grownup. I keep saying to myself, "Come on, Elena. You had a goal about reaching a specific word count today, but here you are contemplating going back to bed and reading Descent by Tim Johnston."

It's a good read so far. I'd justify it by saying I need to stay relevant in my field, but I know it's just because it's snowing outside and that fits the general state of anxiety I've been living in for weeks.

It looks beautiful, but long enough outside without the right clothes and the beauty will kill you. Bury you in a virginal whiteness and you don't get found until spring. Or, well, later this afternoon when the rain returns and the snow melts. This is, after all, Western Washington, not Billings, Montana, or Nome, Alaska.

The weather does, however, represent how I feel right now. What I want to do is hibernate. Stay in my warm bed, curled up with my animals, until the world feels safer, less full of misogyny, xenophobia, and hate. Until my Facebook feed isn't full of angry posts and doomsday predictions about just how bad it's going to get. I don't need Facebook for that, I can go there in my own mind without any help from my friends.


But this is Western Washington, and the snow is going to melt, and I do have to finish book three, and promote book one, and prepare for the launch of book two. These are the things I can control. Not the weather. Not the political disasters and impending years of dismantling human decency, such as it was. Not the hate. Not the anger. Not even my own.

So I'm going to enjoy my snow day, or snow morning as this is likely to be. And remind myself that spring does come. Eventually.




Honoring Jimmy Loftin at Killer Nashville

Killer Nashville was a great conference. It was fun being back in the south. So many terrific writers there, whom I'll write more about in the next post. 

But first I wanted to talk about a wonderful Scholarship created by my friend and fellow writer, Bryan Robinson and his sister Glenda Robinson Loftin.  

So grateful to Bryan for his friendship and the time I got to spend with him, his husband, and his family on my trip to Nashville and North Carolina. Please take a moment to learn about this terrific opportunity to help in a writer's journey.


The Killer Nashville
Jimmy Loftin Memorial Scholarship
 
Jimmy Loftin’s family members have been writers their entire lives. Jimmy’s mother, Glenda Robinson Loftin, is a retired award-winning journalist. Uncle Bryan Robinson, a long-time supporter of Killer Nashville, is author of 35 nonfiction books and several mystery/thriller novels, including the award winning, Limestone Gumption. Bryan’s spouse, Jamey McCullers, is cousin of the illustrious writer, Carson McCullers, author of The Heart is a Lonely Hunter.
 
Tragedy struck the Robinson/Loftin family when Jimmy was violently murdered in the prime of his youth—the result of the senseless gun violence sweeping our country. It was only natural that this family of writers wanted a memorial befitting Jimmy so his memory lives on. The Jimmy Loftin Memorial Scholarship is the result of that wish. Jimmy’s parents, James and Glenda Loftin, his brothers, Scott and Blake Loftin, and their Uncles Bryan Robinson and Jamey McCullers wish to assist writers struggling financially, who want to attend the Killer Nashville Writers’ Conference—one of the best author-supportive conferences in the world. The family chose Killer Nashville because it is one of the most writer supportive conferences in existence.
 
Jimmy Loftin was kind-hearted, considerate, and generous. He brought out the best in everyone around him. Even as a child, he was sensitive to special needs children his age, and he befriended and protected them. Whip-smart with a wicked sense of humor, Jimmy was recognized and rewarded for his creative and money-saving ideas in the workplace.
 
In memory of Jimmy’s loving generosity, the Jimmy Loftin Memorial Scholarship is awarded to aspiring scribes or debut authors who demonstrate need in an essay format. The money pays for full registration at the Killer Nashville Conference, along with travel, and lodging on a case-needed basis.

Bryan, Glenda, and the 2016 Winner of the Jimmy Lofting Scholarship at Killer Nashville.
 







If you or someone you know would like to apply for the scholarship, here are the guidelines:
 
-Write an essay that illustrates your financial need and why you want to attend the Killer Nashville Writers’ Conference.
 
-Entries should be about 500 words long, double-spaced, and in 12-point Times New Roman or Courier with at least 1-inch margins.
 
-Email entries to contact@KillerNashville.com, and include your first and last name, address, and phone number.
 
-Winners are announced annually at the August Killer Nashville banquet.

 
No donation is too small. If you would like to contribute to the Jimmy Loftin Memorial Scholarship Fund, please make checks out to THE JIMMY LOFTIN SCHOLARSHIP FUND and send donations to:
                                                     Bryan Robinson
                                                     31 Clayton Street
                                                     Asheville, NC 28804
 

 

Magna Cum Murder, Maureen Jennings, and a horse named Radar

Getting back into the swing of things, I'm going to report on my summer and fall activities in reverse. Stay tuned for updates on Bouchercon, Killer Nashville, and the Decatur Book Festival.

The Magna Cum Murder Crime Writing Festival is a fantastic writers conference put on by Ball State in Indianapolis, Indiana. The 22nd year of the festival brought two major headliners. Natasha Cooper, the 2016 International Guest of Honor, has published multiple series under multiple names, including the Trish Maguire mysteries.  And the 2016 Guest of Honor, Maureen Jennings, author of numerous books including the Murdoch Mysteries, famously made into the television series by CBC.

Both authors were inspirational. I wasn't familiar with Natasha Cooper - though I certainly know the woman who introduced her, Sara Paretsky. You know you are about to hear an amazing author, when that person is introduced by the creator of the V.I. Warshawski novels.

Natasha spoke passionately about how she found her voice as a writer. She began her career writing fairly light and fun novels, but she realized she wanted to tap into something deeper.

She was brought up to be "a good girl" and good girls don't feel anger. "We can feel ill and we can feel sad, but we cannot feel rage," she said, in her beautiful London accent.

Then she found her rage and her writing career took off.



Maureen Jennings was also a marvelous speaker. She told of her experiences moving from England to Toronto at the age of seventeen. Born in 1939, she says she always felt vaguely responsible for the outbreak of World War II. I was already a fan of Maureen Jennings the author, both for her novels and the television show currently entering its 10th Season on CBC. Now I am also a fan of Maureen Jennings the person. I had the great good luck of sitting next to Maureen during the last signing time of the conference. A quieter period, as most people had already gotten autographs (and I think Maureen's books had basically sold out), so I had the opportunity to talk to her for about thirty minutes. She was funny and gracious and very generous with her time. I'm looking forward to seeing her again at other conferences in the future.

The biggest highlight of the conference for me was hanging out with fellow Camel Press author, Mary Angela. Mary's first novel, An Act of Murder launched this month, so she has just started her journey as a debut author. She's off to a great start, she was terrific on two panels and her books sold out at the bookstore. I had the pleasure of reading Mary's book and writing a blurb before it came out. It's a wonderful cozy that will have you waiting impatiently for book two.





It was a whirlwind weekend in lovely downtown Indy. The Columbia Club is a great old hotel, dedicated  in 1925 and added to the historical register in 1983.

Full of marble floors, carved wainscoting, leaded and stained glass, and lovely chandeliers, it was a delight to spend three days there. Especially with two Starbucks, one candy shop, a towering monument,
and several horse and carriages right outside the front door.

It has been an incredible couple of months since my first novel, One Dead, Two to Go launched in April. I have been all around the country, met readers and other authors, signed books, been on panels, taught workshops, finished Two Heads Are Deader Than One, and am hard at work on Three Strikes, You're Dead.

But it's very nice to be home.

As many of you know, I lost my beautiful Arab gelding Chance a few months ago.

So Jasper has had to do double duty, as my husband's and my horse. He's a character and a delight. And I love spending time with him.

But, I'm also very pleased to introduce our latest family member.

I'm looking forward to spending quality time with our new kid, Radar. He's very different from Chance. Will he ever come running when I whistle? I can't answer that right now, but I can tell you it does my heart good to see Chancey's once empty paddock filled with this sweet boy.






A Writer's Life: Death and Publishing

I am behind in my blog. These things happen. Sometimes, life gets in the way of  our best intentions.

A few weeks ago, I had to put down my amazing horse, Second Chance.

It knocked the wind out of my sails.

As some of you know, Chance was rescued from a kill pen in Enumclaw, WA. He was emaciated and terrified. Many people believed he would never recover from the physical and psychological abuse and neglect he had suffered.


He was a walking skeleton.




It took a lot of time, work, patience, and love to get him to trust people again.






I spent hours in the arena and round pen doing groundwork. And it all paid off. He was happy, playful, and had enormous heart.








Then the accident happened. It was unexpected, as accidents are, and fatal.
I didn't see it coming. 

It was a few weeks before I could bring myself to tell very many people. It was too painful to talk about. Still is. But life does have to go on. I'm slowly coming back to "work." I'm catching up with where I should be on book three in the Eddie Shoes Mystery Series. I'm updating Facebook and contemplating Twitter. Returning to social media and the public side of a writer's life challenged me. It's hard to do when I'm sad. And I am. Sad.

But I love what I do. I love to write. I love to teach writing. I love to interact with readers and writers, so that too is something I put time, work, patience, and love into. So - I will be writing about some great writerly things soon - Killer Nashville, Bouchercon, the cover reveal of Two Heads Are Deader Than One. Soon. When I'm just a little less sad.

Thank you for listening.


More from Steven T. Callan, Game Warden, Author, Protector of the Wild

Spent the weekend in Georgia for the Decatur Book Festival. My computer, however, was back in North Bend, so the second half of my interview with Steve is a few days late. Sorry about the delay, but it's definitely worth the wait!  Scroll down to read Steve's biography and the previous blog post for Part I of our interview.






You've spent time in many different environments and have actively worked to save animals, habitat, and curtail illegal human behavior in the wild. In addition to being an advocate for nature, do you have one particular animal or place that is extra special for you? 

I’ve often said that I must have been a dolphin in my past life, because I’ve never felt more at peace and at home than when I’m swimming beneath the ocean. I also feel an immeasurable reverence for mountain streams. As far as the animal world goes, I’ve been awestruck by up-close and personal encounters with everything from butterflies to humpback whales. 


Steve and I have a lot in common with our love of the natural world. The highlight of my weekend in Atlanta was viewing the manta rays, whale sharks, and sea turtle, who have been rescued and are now either living out their lives or being rehabilitated at the Georgia Aquarium




What was the most challenging part of becoming an author? 
Having been in law enforcement for thirty years, my biggest challenge in becoming an author was learning to write in such a way that my prose didn’t read like an arrest report. As they say, show, don’t tell. I still find myself wanting to describe characters as six feet tall, weighing 250 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes. (Hey... wait a minute, isn't that a description of you, Steve?)



What are you working on now?
I write columns for two magazines: Outdoor California  and MyOutdoorBuddy.com. I also maintain a blog and try to stay as active as time permits on social media. My monthly schedule generally includes presentations, book signings, and radio interviews. As for my next book, I’m currently working on a mystery novel, and I’m considering one or two other possibilities for a fourth book. 

Final Words of Wisdom:
My advice to other writers or aspiring writers is to write about what you know, tell a good story, and above all, enjoy yourselves. For those of us in our sixties and beyond, the prospect of losing our cognitive abilities looms large. Writing is not only a wonderful form of expression, it’s also good for the brain.

Steven T. Callan is the award-winning author of Badges, Bears, and Eagles—The True-Life Adventures of a California Fish and Game Warden, a 2013 “Book of the Year” award finalist (ForeWord Reviews). He is the recipient of the 2014, 2015, and 2016 “Best Outdoor Magazine Column” awards from the Outdoor Writers Association of California. Steve’s sequel, The Game Warden’s Son, was released March 1, 2016, by Coffeetown Press of Seattle, and is the focus of his 2016 book tour.

Steven T. Callan - Game Warden, Author, and Defender of the Natural World


Steven T. Callan is the award-winning author of Badges,Bears, and Eagles—The True-Life Adventures of a California Fish and Game Warden, a 2013 “Book of the Year” award finalist (ForeWord Reviews). He is the recipient of the 2014, 2015, and 2016 “Best Outdoor Magazine Column” awards from the Outdoor Writers Association of California. Steve’s sequel, The Game Warden’s Son, was released March 1, 2016, by Coffeetown Press of Seattle, and is the focus of his 2016 book tour.

Jane Manaster, writing for the Manhattan Book Review, had this to say in her five- star review of Callan’s latest offering: "A witty and enlightening memoir, The Game Warden’s Son brims over with tales of stake-outs using disguises and subterfuge to trap transgressors. . . . The book’s slang or jargon related to wildlife is a fun bonus and makes the timely account of environmental protection even more enjoyable." Click here to read the full review.


Steven T Callan has led an extraordinary life. Connected to the land and sea and the flora and fauna, in ways many of us will never know. Luckily for the rest of us, he's written about his experiences and we can get a glimpse into his stunning world through his excellent prose.

The Interview - Part I

Your memoir The Game Warden's Son is part coming of age, part environmental awareness and protection, and part honoring of your father. How did you decide on the shape and format you were going to take for this beautiful book? 

My first book, Badges, Bears, and Eagles, was a collection of true stories, beginning in the early seventies when I began my career as a warden with the California Department of Fish and Game. In The Game Warden’s Son, I went further back in time, but kept the same basic format: a collection of individual true stories. This time around, I added an additional, more personal element—the lifelong relationship between a boy and his father.


I try to educate and weave a conservation message into every story I write. In the case of The Game Warden’s Son, I wanted to show how my storybook childhood and close relationship with my father helped mold me into the wildlife officer I would later become. In the last chapter, my intention was to bring a half century of wildlife enforcement work full circle and, in a small way, thank my father for all he’d done for me.  

The physical, active, hands-on experience of being a warden and the internal, intellectual pursuit of writing feel like such different skill sets. How do these two disciplines compliment each other for you? 

Conserving our precious natural resources and writing have always been two of my passions. Being able to write well is essential if you’re going to be an effective wildlife officer, or any kind of enforcement officer, for that matter. Catching violators is only half of the job; convincing a DA, judge, and/or jury that your case is worth pursuing and will likely result in a conviction is the other half. As a patrol lieutenant, I constantly stressed the importance of writing to the officers I supervised. Over the years, I’ve written hundreds of extensive and complicated arrest reports, search warrant affidavits, and search warrants. 

My intensity of purpose absolutely drives my writing, as it did my performance as a wildlife officer. As an officer, I saved wildlife by arresting outlaws and working to conserve habitat. As a writer, I try to save wildlife by educating readers with compelling stories.

In your opinion, is there one overarching societal problem that threatens wildlife or is every instance different? What do we, as a society, need to do to have a positive impact on our relationship with the natural world?

It would probably take a master’s thesis to adequately answer the first part of this question. I will cut to the chase and say the overarching societal problem that threatens wildlife is elimination or destruction of habitat—on land and under the water. In this country and all over the world, wildlife numbers are diminishing directly or indirectly because of human actions: burning fossil fuels, land development, mining, agricultural practices, dam building, overfishing, poaching, commercial exploitation, deforestation, . . . The list goes on.
            Teaching our children to obey laws, recycle, conserve energy, and appreciate nature is a given. As a society, we need to decide if we want our grandchildren to be able to enjoy the natural world as we knew it or leave them with nothing but photographs of the way it once was. Do we elect people who will make decisions for the long-term good of the earth and its inhabitants or continue on our present course like a runaway train headed for the cliff?

            I do believe there’s hope—that’s what drives me to include a conservation message in my books, columns, and presentations. We need to act quickly, however.


Check back for Part II of the Interview
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ThrillerFest 2016: Heather Graham, More Lee Child, and John Sandford mentions Peter Clines....

The rest of day three at ThrillerFest 2016 was a blur. After hearing Karin Slaughter's great interview with Gillian Flynn, I went off to listen to Lawrence Block, Lee Child, Tess Gerritsen, Peter James, Arvam Ludwig, and John Sandford. Even if you don't recognize the author names, you probably recognize some of their titles, including: A Walk Among The Tombstones, The Jack Reacher Series, the Rizzoli & Isles Series, the Superintendent Roy Grace Series, and the Prey Series.

If that wasn't enough, the panel moderator was David Morrell, author of numerous best-selling novels including a book called First Blood, with a little-known protagonist named Rambo.

The panel was about books and movies. Everyone on the dais had written several novels, (with the exception of Arvam Ludwig, who I'm proud to say is a fellow ITW Debut Author) which have been  translated into TV and film. Arvam came to the table with several years' experience making movies prior to writing his first novel, Shooting the Sphinx.

As interesting as it was to hear what everyone had to say about their work and careers, the highlight of the panel for me was when John Sandford complimented my friend Peter Clines' writing. Sandford starting talking about "this guy in Los Angeles" writing superhero/cross genre... and I thought, he's talking about Peter! That is so cool! When he said the name Peter Clines I almost applauded. When I went up to say hello to Mr. Sandford I think I may have come across as a slightly crazy name-dropper, but it was still a lot of fun. Thank you Mr. Sandford, for being so gracious.

The last event I attended was ThrillerMaster Heather Graham, interviewed by Lee Child. And yes, that's author Heather Graham, not the actor. The writer Heather Graham has written over 150 novels and novellas with over 75 million books in print.


The interview was a hoot - these two authors are very funny people. I was especially interested to learn Heather Graham started her career as an actor, earning her degree in theater from the University of South Florida and working in dinner theater and as a backup singer.

Once the interview ended I decided I couldn't top the experiences I'd had throughout the day. It felt like the perfect note to end on for a fantastic conference. I headed back out onto 42nd Street and made my way home to The Jane Hotel.

New York is always exciting - and this trip was no exception. I loved every moment of ThrillerFest and I'm already looking forward to next year.




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Thrillerfest Continued: Day Three, Debut Author Breakfast and Gillian Flynn

Day three of Thrillerfest was so jam packed with events it's going to require two different posts to cover it all.

The day started early. The Jane Hotel is charming and cheap - and way down south in the West Village, so I had a trek to get up to the Grand Hyatt. I didn't want to be late, or be a hot sweaty mess in the NYC summer humidity, so I got a cab.

I love NYC cabs. Hailing one makes me feel like a grownup.

Debut Author Breakfast


Since it was Saturday, I zipped up and across town in record time, arriving well before our early morning event.


                                                                            So many great new authors! Click this link here for a complete list of the 2015/2016 Debut authors.







We started at 7:55. My fellow debut authors and I were curious about how many people would come out to support a bunch of lesser known writers first thing in the morning - especially after the cocktail party the night before - but the room was packed.




Sitting up on our dais felt like being a part of the biggest bridal party reception ever.




After introductions by Steve Berry, we all got to pitch our books to the room. It was a blur, but my fellow debuts told me I was coherent, so there's that to be thankful for.

After finishing our breakfast event, I went to Drugs, Bombs or Weapon Detection: K-9 Dogs in Thriller Novels. Cat Warren is one of my favorite speakers, so I was excited to hear what she had to say. And there's nothing better than seeing an active duty K-9. I had the chance to speak to Special Agent Ryan J Christie and meet his dog before the event, but he asked that we not post photos of them. I will just report that the dog and his handler were both adorable.

Next up Two Ladies Having An Adult Conversation: 
Spotlight Guest Gillian Flynn Interviewed by Karin Slaughter.



"We root for bad men and hope bad women get murdered." 
Karin Slaughter

Fantastic interview. Who knew these two ladies were so funny! They've been friends for several years, so it felt like we were listening in on a gossip session over cocktails. They were also very gracious about posing for a picture. Here are some highlights from this marvelous event.

Gillian Flynn, world renowned for her book Gone Girl, appears publicly on a regular basis. In addition to seeing her at Thrillerfest, I'd seen her in person at a sold out Town Hall meeting in Seattle. It turns out she was cripplingly shy as a child. She's still "situationally shy" as an adult. Some types of public appearances bring that social anxiety back for her. I get this. I'm very outgoing, and most people think I never suffer social anxiety, but certain kinds of events are difficult for me too.

I'm also pleased to know that Gillian is not an outliner, she starts with a character or an image. I write this way, so that's two things I have in common with her. I love that!

Karin asked Gillian what it was like to have to follow Gone Girl with another book. She said she had to consciously think about how she wanted to write a great book - but not rewrite Gone Girl. "Never try to replicate that," she said about her breakout novel. She feels her biggest mistake would be to try to write that book again. She said she "didn't want to write a book because it's what (she) was supposed to write" to follow her wildly successful third novel.

Discussing her influences, Gillian mentioned her dad taught film and she was exposed to a variety of grownup movies very young in life. This included Alien, Psycho, and Bonnie and Clyde, viewed at the age of seven. Add in a mother who taught reading and Gillian's desire to write and success at writing dark stories, makes a lot of sense.

One of Gillian's favorite books as a child was The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin,  which made her want to write mysteries. I wasn't familiar with this book, so now it's on my list of books to read.

Gillian spent ten years writing for Entertainment Weekly Magazine. When asked about her writing process, she said "I was covering the Lord of The Rings, then I'd come back to the hotel and kill a child, then write - so that's part of my process." (Laughs).

One of the things that struck me both times I've seen Gillian speak, is how down-to-earth and funny she is. Warm, thoughtful, and charming, it's fascinating to think about the dark places her mind can go. But we're all very glad it does.

Check back for Part II of Day Three



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Historical Fiction Author Nancy Herriman - Part III

Summer has finally arrived in the Pacific Northwest. La NiƱa has heated up the rest of the country, but it's been relatively mild out here. After trips to New York City and Las Vegas, home for a few weeks of 75-80 degree weather feels great. So much to catch up on! Getting back to the gym, finishing book two of the Eddie Shoes Mystery Series, and my blog. So on that note, here's part III of my interview with author Nancy Herriman. 

Scroll down for parts I and II.

What do you love about singing with choral groups?
There is an inexplicable joy in group performance done well. Making music recharges me and provides the ultimate escape. I dont think of much else while Im singing.

What are you working on now?
Im working on a short story featuring the nurse sleuth from my mystery series, Celia Davies. Once I complete and polish that, its back to work on Book 3.

Final Words of Wisdom

To folks whod like to writePersevere. Ive faced lots of obstacles in my writers journey, but the only way Ive been able to reach any of my goals is to keep jumping over those hurdles.

Nancy Herriman abandoned a career in Engineering to chase around two small children and take up the pen. She hasn't looked back. A multi-published author, she is also a former winner of the Romance Writers of America's Daphne du Maurier award for Best Unpublished Mystery/ Romantic Suspense. 


When not writing, she enjoys singing with various choral groups, gabbing about writing with friends, and eating dark chocolate. After two decades in Arizona, she now lives in her home state of Ohio with her family.