Friday, October 31, 2014

Friday's Guest - Tim Smith talking about Heroes, Heroines and Villains #MFRWauthor

1 – Do you write a single series or do your fingers flow over the keys creating tales in many forms? Do your reading choices reflect your writing choices? Are there genres you wouldn’t attempt?

I’m currently writing for two different series – one featuring a private eye, the other starring a former CIA spook and his lover. Both are in the mystery/thriller genre but the Vic Fallon private eye series is more mystery with a touch of romance. It echoes the work of Raymond Chandler, Donald E. Westlake and Robert B. Parker. Fallon is like an old school gumshoe from the 1940’s or 50’s but in a contemporary setting with current themes. I’ve also published several romantic comedies.

My reading choices definitely reflect my writing choices. I’ve enjoyed those kinds of stories for years, featuring the tough wisecracking hero with an eye for the ladies who always takes one on the chin in the name of love. With this series, I wanted to bring Phillip Marlowe, Sam Spade, Peter Gunn and Jim Rockford into the 21st century and I think I’ve succeeded, based on what readers have told me.

As for genres I wouldn’t attempt, I have no interest in writing vampire, paranormal or shape-shifter romance because I don’t understand them.     

2 – Heroes, heroines, villains. Which are your favorites to write? Does one of these come easy and why?

I enjoy crafting heroes and heroines but a really colorful villain can be fun to write. Most of them have a screw loose any way (hence why they do what they do) and you can go over the top with characters like that, as long as they get theirs in the end. You typically know what motivates the hero but sometimes it’s fun to explore the villain’s psyche and see what makes them run. One of my stories featured a villainess who became sexually aroused by shooting people. Another featured a mob enforcer who liked breaking heads but really got into being degraded by hookers. I think I’m seeing a trend here.

3 – Heroes. How do you find them? Do pictures, real life or plain imagination create the man you want the reader to root for? Do they come before the plot or after you have the idea for the story?

When I get a good story concept I decide which series it would best be suited for. If it’s a ripped from the headlines idea, it would probably fit the Nick Seven spy thriller series. If it’s something quirkier, I’ll make it a Vic Fallon private eye caper. The online dangers of sexting formed the premise for the Fallon mystery “Lido Key,” and the Wikileaks affair was the jumping off point for the Nick Seven thriller “Never Look Back.”

I generally have a mental image of what I want my heroes to look like before I begin. I like to make them more three dimensional by including something that reflects their moral code, which often mirrors my own. For example, Vic Fallon can’t tolerate domestic violence against women. It was the reason he was nearly bounced off the police force and it’s something I also feel strongly about. I like to make my heroes and heroines human, with many of the everyday foibles we all have. I’m bored with some of the heroes I’ve read in crime fiction stories that come off as too real to be believable. When one of my heroes gets into a fight or a shooting match, they bleed like the rest of us. 

4 – Heroines. How do you find them? Do pictures, real life or plain imagination create the man you want the reader to root for? Do they come before the plot or after you have the idea for the story?

I usually have an idea of what I want the heroine to look like before I start writing. Since the Vic Fallon series features a different female lead in each story, I work hard to not have them appear the same. I’m a very visual writer, seeing the scenes play out on a movie screen in my mind, and I cast the parts accordingly. If I’m seeking a certain look, inspired by an actress I’ve mentally cast for the part, I may find a picture of them and refer to it when creating the character.

I don’t like to ruin the whole theater of the mind thing for the readers, though. I recall reading one of the later James Bond novels by Ian Fleming. When it came time to introduce the girl of the week, Fleming did the unthinkable – he described her as looking “just like Ursula Andress.” That ruined it for me because I had someone else in mind.   

5 – Villains or villainesses or an antagonist, since they don’t always have to be the bad guy or girl. They can be a person opposed to the hero’s or heroine’s obtaining their goal. How do you choose one? How do you make them human?

Choosing the antagonist can be tricky, and sometimes there’s more than one. It helps to put your faith in mankind on hold and realize that like it or not, most of us have a little larceny in our souls. In the Nick Seven thrillers, there’s always the primary villain for Nick to lock horns with but since he’s a former CIA spook, don’t be surprised when someone from the government also gets involved. That characters past life was filled with double-dealers and shady people with political agendas. It would be a shame to waste all that treachery and distrust, wouldn’t it? 

I try to make the bad people human just like I do with my heroes and heroines. I’m a people watcher and I’m always making note of little things people do. It can be anything from the way someone turns a phrase, or their dialect, or the way they compulsively arrange the silverware at the dinner table. People are unique and I try to add those little touches to every character I create. An editor told me long ago to always include a brief physical description when I introduce a character, no matter how large or small their part may be. Best advice I ever received.

6 – What is your latest release? Who is the hero, heroine or the villain?

My latest release is “The Dirty Blonde.” It’s the third installment in the Vic Fallon private eye series, but the books don’t need to be read in order. For the uninitiated, Fallon is a former cop who was about to be let go from the Sandusky, Ohio police force for unnecessary roughness when he got shot and took a disability separation. He doesn’t really have to work and usually takes cases when he’s bored or intrigued. There’s a different female lead in each story, which keeps it interesting.

When I conceived this series I kept thinking of the private eye shows we all watched on TV in the sixties and seventies, like “Mannix,” “Peter Gunn” and “The Rockford Files.” In each episode, the hero got involved with a different woman and just when things were about to get interesting they’d cut to a commercial. In written form we don’t have commercials so I can show what really happens after the lights go down low.   

7 – What are you working on now?

I recently submitted the fourth Nick Seven spy thriller, “Operation Payback” and I’m working on another installment. I’m also working on another Vic Fallon caper.

8 – How can people find you?

My website is I’m also on Facebook, and I have an author page on Amazon. If they can’t find me at any of those places, they can try the Buckhorn Tavern in Dayton, Ohio.


Tim Smith is an award-winning, bestselling author whose books range from romantic mystery/thrillers to contemporary erotic romance. He is also a freelance photographer. He can often be found in The Florida Keys, indulging his passion for parasailing between research and seeking out the perfect Mojito. His website is

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Thursday's Hero Kristan From The Amber Chronicles by Janet Lane Walters, #MFRWauthor

The youngest prince of Rivand stared at the sky.  The moon had risen and was new.  He lifted the bottle of wine and drank deeply.  If only he could find something to be other than the wastrel prince, a man without a place in the kingdom.  He drank again and finished the bottle.  When he gestured for another, he saw the palace page appear.  Kristen tried to make himself invisible.  There could be no other man or woman in this tavern being sought by the king.

He watched the page search the faces of the men gathered around the tables.  Perhaps he wouldn’t be seen here on the balcony.  His hopes were dashed when the page hurried through the crowded room and appeared at Kristan’s side.  “Your sire requests your presence.”

Kristin rose and followed the boy to the tavern door.  At least he hadn’t imbibed enough to make his stagger.  He mounted his horse and rode through town to the imposing stone building that had been his home for all his life.

As he entered the throne room, she saw his father waited.  His oldest brother usually sat at the king’s side.  Where was the crown prince?  Did this mean his heir was about to be born?  Kristen shivered.  One day, a crown prince might be called to face the Witch of the Woods. He recalled the cryptic words he’d read in his grandfather memoirs and remembered his vow to free the woman caught in the amber gem.

“Kristen,” his father’s voice was low and rumbled with anger.  “Your conduct is unbecoming to a prince.  I’m tired of hearing of your constant pursuit of wine, women and dice.”

Kristan straightened.  “What else is there for me?  My oldest brother follows you.  The second will be his advisor.  The third will head the army.  The fourth, the navy.  The fifth the treasury and the sixth the agriculture of Rivand.  There is nothing left for me.”

“Not so.  There is marriage.  One has been arranged with the daughter of Wevald.  Put your affairs in order.  You leave at the end of the week.”

“I don’t want to marry someone I’ve never seen.”  Kristan turned and fled the room.

“You will do as ordered,” the king shouted.

Kristan raced along the empty corridors until he reached his chambers.  He sat on the edge of the bed and wished the numbness of the liquor he’d drunk would return.  He had to make plans.  This marriage his father had arranged wasn’t for him.  From deep inside came the certainty that for him there was another destiny though what he didn’t know.

He rose.  He had to leave the palace tonight.  Where he would go, he wasn’t sure.  He found a haversack and quickly packed a few changes of clothes.  From the chest at the foot of his bed he took the sleeping blanket he had used on hunting trips.  His hand brushed a tear-shaped globe.  He lifted the amber crystal and held it to the candlelight.

“Emme,” he whispered.  His thoughts flashed to the night his grandfather had died and how the valet had brought the amber orb to him.  For years, he had kept the globe beside his bed and stared at the woman trapped inside.  Without knowing why, he tucked the sphere in his haversack.  He stuffed coins in his boots where many men kept knives.  He hurried to the stable and saddled his horse.  He rode quickly through the town and exited the gates and rode toward the forest.

The crescent of the new moon rose but the light cast was dimmed by the trees.  Though the leaves were those of spring and small, the trees were crowded.  Kristan heard a rustling.  The wind or an animal, he thought.  The small light cast by the crescent moon cast shadows.

“Hoy.”  The shout startled him.  Someone leaped from one of the trees and knocked him from the horse.  The animal squealed.

Kristan was unable to free his sword.  His attackers slashed with knives.  He was able to land a few blows before something hit his head so hard he was dazed.  He collapsed and held his breath.

The thieves grabbed his pack and began to rummage in the contents.  He was glad he had thought to hide his coins.

“What’s this?”

“Amber and a large chunk.”  Suddenly one of the men screamed.  “No.”

The amber globe fell to the ground.  The men ran.  Moonlight illuminated the globe and the shimmer around the sphere appeared to grow.  Kristen tried to get to his knees.  His head felt as thought he’d been spinning for he couldn’t believe what he thought he saw.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Wednesday's Writer's Tip - A Bit More On Series - #MFRWauthor

You have your series planned and the first story written. Now comes the time to market these stories that may take several years to write. What are some things you need to consider? There are a number of places they can be published. You can hope one of the big publishers picks the series up, you can go to a small publisher or you can publish the series yourself. But making the series appealing to readers is something that's very important. Writing the Fiction Series by Karen Wiesner has some hints about this and I'll show you what some of them mean.

When you're writing a series something in the titles of each story contained in the world you've created makes sense. There are many series out there. The series can have an over all title. I've used this several times in my own series. Affinities is one and then each of the titles of the particular stories falls under this major titles. An even better way is for each of the stories to have a particular word in the title of each book. I'm working on a series and though it does have a title for the whole series, each of the so far three stories and the fourth I'm working on has Dreams in the title. So here two markers are there to bring the stories to the attention of readers.

A second method is to make use of a series blurb. This is great for promoting the entire series and is something both general and specific to a series. The best way I can explain what I found about using such a thing is to have a series blurb that is very general and yet somehow leads the reader into the series. Such as Four teens are forced to leave their home and parents to seek teachers to show them how to use their affinities for Earth, Fire, Water and Air. Following this comes the blurb for the story. A reader finding that first line will think aha this is another story in that series.

There are two more suggestions that I'll address next time.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Tuesday's Inspiration - Isaac Asimov Quote #MFRWauthor

While reading an old book of essays by authors I came across a short essay by Isaac Asimov. Not he was talking abut being prolific but the words I read could also be to anyone who wants to be a published author. You have to like to write.

Think about this. Now you may have the urge to write and there are many reasons for this but it comes down to the bottom line. If you don't 100% like what you're doing then while you may write stories and may have a sale or two but you won't keep going day after day pushing the keys if you don't like what you're doing.

There are people who write one book and it may be a wonderful book but they never write another book or story. Could it be that they realized they were doing something they didn't like. Could be and I have known people who fit this category. They can be brilliant writers but they haven't reached the goal in their mine, money, fame, whatever they desire so they stop.

So the moral of this bit is no matter why you choose to write You have to like to write. Maybe it's the characters, maybe the plot, even the setting but every part of writing must mean you're doing what you like.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Meandering On Monday with Janet Lane Walters #MFRWauthor

Meander 1 - More on what makes a professional author. If one were to be held to the quota of 20,000 words a year would this push them too hard? This means if one went for words per month, 1667 and that doesn't seem like a lot. If one looked for a weekly total of words written that would mean 385. Doesn't seem impossible at least to me. So let's look at the daily total of words and it comes to 55 words a day. All new words, of course. I really think there are other factors that go into being a professional writer and one of them is being published. Whether short stories, novellas or full length books being published is where it's at and until one is published I don't think the number of new words really means a thing.

Meander 2 - Reading for contests can be the pits. I've finished my chores for the time and must finish with the scores. Then there will be 2 more rounds and also 2 more contests to judge. One is great since there are only three pages to critique and a really good score sheet to put yes or no in. The other is to read and rate.

Meander 3 My wroting. Am doing the last draft of Pursuing Michael West MD and am starting on the next of the dream books - Divided Dreams. Always good to finish a book and to begin again. Pursuing is a re-write of a book that sold well as a novella but I cringed when I saw all the beginner mistakes in the book. The passive voice now is standing around 1% and may go to 2 or 3 but never the 20 % I began with, I will have added about 6000 words making this a longer novella or a short book. We will see.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sunday - Talking About My Books - The Doctor's Dilemma #MFRWauthor #BooksWeLove

When I began to write The Doctor's Dilemma, I had in mind one thing and that was to write a circular story where the opening scene was reflected in the final scene. Then what became a blurb hit me. Take one foot-loos doctor, add a nurse who wants a settled life, add to a small Texas town and give him a set of infant twins he is left by a dying foster sister and you have the Doctor's Dilemma. The story was a fun one to write and I was able to use some of the memories I had of Texas where we lived for a few years ages ago.

The hero needed to have reasons why he never wanted to settle down and I gave him a foot-loose life with the longest he'd ever lived in one place was during his college years and medical school. As a foster child he bounced from family to family and the one person who he had connected with was his foster sister who gave birth to the twins. Moving and moving during his childhood set the pattern for his later life when he chose to be the kind of doctor who worked for an agency that sent him to various towns.

The heroine had the same kind of childhood but she was moved and moved from town to town by her parents who as artists moved nearly every year. She yearns for a settled home. Making friends and losing them troubled her and she wants a settled life.

The story was a fun one to write. The arrival of the twins forces the hero to look at his life and the absence of his housekeeper who will care for the children leaves him asking the nurse to remain until the woman returns. His growing attachment to the babies and to the nurse force him to look at his life. She is also forced to look at what she wants. Is a home a person or a place? Both need to look at their lives.

At one time I was going to write other stories about this town and the characters in the town but no stories came into myhead. Perhaps one day, there will be other stories.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Saturday's Blurbs - Books By Linda Hall #MFRWauthor

Night Watch

Desolate Maine shores... Murder... And peace slipping away on the outgoing tide... 

For yacht delivery captain, Em Ridge, having a billionaire's daughter go overboard on her first captaining job is not a good beginning. The sailboat is new, state of the art, her crew on this trip include two close sailing friends. But an unknown fourth, who can't even tie a bowline, and the unruly owner's daughter turn the idlyic trip into an adventure not wanted. 

Two years ago Em buried her husband, her soulmate, her sailing buddy, and with him buried a secret. As hours on the open seas slide by, secrets are resurrected that tie Em's past to a present, awash with murder and deception. 

Will Em's career go overboard? Will the investigating detective help her or hurt her? Any why does the best boat delivery captain on the east coast pull at her heart strings? 

The oft foggy coast of Maine holds secrets it does not want to give up, and a lot of bodies can be hidden in The Pine Tree State's largest city. 

Strange Faces

A touch of mystery, a hint of horror and a dash of magic

From experienced and award winning author Linda Hall comes Strange Faces, a collection of seven stories that will take you to a place where killers can linger in your backyard but where magic can sometimes change everything. The voyage begins with Pickers and Choosers, and with a group of young dumpster foragers who witness a murder. Or do they? And why now, after twenty-seven years is the terrible memory resurfacing? In A Nice Cup of Something Hot we meet Mrs. Wilkers, a divorced woman obsessed with her ex-husband, his new wife, and ultimately with death and murder. 

The connection between siblings plays a key role in two of the stories. We Are Brothers is about very different twins. Weather Ladies attempts to answer the question, what do you do when you find out your sister is a murderer? Mad Scientist is all about revenge. How far can someone be provoked? Far enough to murder? On the lighter side, The Hockey Bag features a young man, who through no fault of his own, gets caught up in a rather gruesome bag of tricks. You will smile, or tear up, with A Small Season of Magic. It’s a story of a girl, of bullying, and what happens when a small bit of magic intervenes. 

Hall’s writing has been described as “crisp, intense, filled with suspense and intriguing characters” and writing which has the ability to “keep you on the edge of your seat until the end.” 

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Steal Away

What took Ellen away from her famous husband yearly, to the cold windy coast of Maine? Piecing together the life of an unhappy minister's wife, private investigator Teri Blake-Addison trails the wreckage to a remote Canadian island. When murder rocks the community, she realizes the puzzle may not be as simple as it had seemed. Book One in the Teri Blake-Addison private investigator series

Island of Refuge

The lives of five homeless people living in a church on an island are shattered when one of them is murdered. Meanwhile, two states over, another investigation is begun, a seeming unrelated one. But what is discovered shatters the island dwellers to the very core and intertwines the lives of the island dwellers as they seek to make peace with themselves, their lives, and God.

Katheryn's Secret

Mystery writer Sharon Colebrook finds herself the unexpected recipient of her deceased Aunt Katie's papers, and hopes to learn about a murder Katie had hinted at years before. But as Sharon and her husband Jeff head from the west coast of Canada to the east coast of Maine to begin to investigate, the carefully kept facade of her strict religious family begins to crumble. Secrets, long buried, begin to surface, and only God's grace can put this family back together again.