Friday, June 29, 2018

THE FACE BEHIND THE VOICE--A Voice Actor Speaks to Suspense Sisters

Interviewer: E.E. Kennedy

Recently, my publisher Sheaf House and I decided to launch out into the world of audio books. The first of my Miss Prentice mysteries, Irregardless of Murder, was just recently released in Amazon Audible and I'm about to introduce you to the very talented woman who recorded the entire book: Sheila Stasack.


     EEK: Sheila, we met through ACX, Amazon’s audio book service. Have you been doing this for very long?  

   SS: I’ve been doing books through ACX for about four years.  Prior to that, I have worked in voice-over for about 30 years.
    
   EEK: What kinds of books have you recorded? What genres are your favorites? 

   SS: I’ve done a variety of books:  mysteries, romance, how-to books (e.g. Puppy Training), and several books on yoga and spirituality.  I’ve been told my voice can be very soothing, so I enjoy doing books that require a gentle approach.  Then again, who doesn’t want to be part of a fun mystery?

    EEK: Do you have your own home studio or do you record elsewhere? 
    
    SS: I have a small home studio in what used to be my front closet.  It works very well for recording, but there is no ventilation, so I have to limit my recording time in the summer or record late at night when the weather is coolest.     

     EEK:You’re a very good actress. Do you have a background in drama? 
     
    SS: I have been involved in theater or performance since I was three.  I do theater and some TV.  I have a movie, Love in Kilnerry, in post-production right now which I hope will come out by the end of the year.  I also teach acting.  Right now I’m working with children, ages four to eleven.
   
    EEK: Where are you from? Are regional accents a challenge?

    SS: I’m originally from Chicago, then lived in Boston for several years, and now I’m a New Yorker.  I’ve always had a pretty good ear for regionalisms.  Also, I had an excellent teacher in high school who helped me lose my Chicago sound.

    EEK: In my book, Irregardless of Murder, you do all kinds of foreign accents, including Scottish and French. How did you learn to do accents so well? Do you speak French, for instance? 

    SS: I studied French in high school and since that time I’ve gained a cursory knowledge of several other languages.  I think it’s polite when you travel to be able to say please, thank you, and a few other things in the language of the country you are visiting.  It helps when you are adding an accent to a piece.  Also, you only want to add a suggestion of an accent in an audio book.  If you go too far, it will be hard to understand.

    EEK: Have you ever considered writing yourself? 

    SS: Several people have asked me why I don’t write my own material.  I don’t think I have anything to say that would add to the world conversation.  I am very happy to interpret the words of others.

    EE: Is this your main career or a sideline? 

SS: Theater, voiceover, audio books and TV would be the only thing I did if I had my way.  Like any of the arts, it rarely pays all the bills. I also teach acting, and have worked a little in real estate.

    EEK: Your voice is your instrument. Can you tell us ways that you take care of it?

    SS: About twelve years ago I lost my voice. I was in Russia doing The Seagull and I caught a cold. Not enough sleep, cold weather, and the stress of traveling in a foreign country did me in. I was on vocal rest for three weeks and it scared me. A voice actor with no voice? I try to get enough sleep, eat healthfully, and not get sick!  I also try to use my voice correctly, supporting it even when I’m cheering at a baseball game.  Lots and lots of water, too.

EEK: Can you tell us something about yourself that might surprise us?

SS: I think the most surprising thing about me is how normal I am.  I have three grown sons and was a soccer mom for many years.  Now, I’m loving my time in New York as a single lady.  Two of my sons live nearby, so I’m still mom.

EE: Thanks so much, Sheila. It's been a pleasure to interview you!

***
Please comment below and leave your EMAIL ADDRESS to be in the drawing for an audio copy of Irregardless of Murder, read by Sheila. I can tell you, it's very entertaining! She even had me laughing at the jokes I wrote myself and shivering at the scary parts!




Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Behind the Scenes






Patricia Bradley here, along with my computer writing partner, who doesn't have a name. Maybe that's something we'll take care of here on this post.

Anyhoo, my partner and I were talking today, and it occurred to me that the Suspense Sisters readers might like to see what goes on behind the scenes.

Computer partner: Let’s talk romance.

Me: I’d rather not. How about suspense.

Computer: What? You don’t like writing romance?

Me: No—yes. I mean, it’s easier for me to write suspense. Romance is hard!

Computer Partner (rolling its eyes—it does that a lot): Come on, it’s not that hard. You already have your hero…and your heroine. All you have to do is keep them from getting together while they’re trying to make sure the antagonist doesn’t kill them.

Me: You make it sound so easy. I’m not sure how I’m going to keep them apart when they’re on the run together.

Computer Partner: But that’s a good thing. Now your readers will wonder if the hero gets the girl? Will he be able to overcome his fear of commitment in time to win her heart? Will the heroine trust the hero, especially after he breaks her heart? Besides, you have that really cool guy who’s also trying to win her heart.

Me: Well, yeah, and lately I actually like him better than the hero.

Computer partner: You're joking, right? He’s all wrong for her. Three weeks after she chooses him, and he's outta there. He's not husband material...yet. Maybe in our next book, though...

Me: Yeah, I know, but still...

Computer partner: No, you know as well as I do she’ll make the right choice. Besides, your hero is the one who will save her from the bad guy—you know, the villain. Tell me something, what's the difference between a villain and an antagonist, anyway?

Me: Do you know what time it is? It's almost eleven, and too late to get into that tonight.

Computer Partner: I bet our readers would like to know the answer to that one.

Me: Maybe I’ll write about antagonists and villains in my next post for the Suspense Sisters, and Computer Partner, you can hop over here next month and read it.

Computer Partner: I don't have to...unless you're planning on using a different computer to write it with. That's what this is all about, isn't it? You're breaking up with me. After all I've done for you!

Me, sighing: It's been a long day. I think I'll shut you down. Good-night...

Okay. I really do think Computer Partner needs a name. Leave a comment with your suggestions, and I'll enter you in a drawing for my latest book, Justice Betrayed!


Do you have a name for your computer? Help Patricia Bradley name hers! #bookgiveaway

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Hot Inspirational Suspense




Hot New Inspirational Suspense and Mystery

This week the Suspense Sisters is featuring Deadly Undertow by Christy Barritt!



The thrilling conclusion to the Lantern Beach Mystery series is finally here!

The current’s fatal pull is powerful, but so is one detective’s will to live.

When someone from Cassidy Livingston’s past shows up on Lantern Beach and warns her of impending peril, opposing currents collide, threatening to drag her under. Running would be easy. But leaving would break her heart.

Cassidy must decipher between the truth and lies, between reality and deception. Even more importantly, she must decide whom to trust and whom to fear. Her life depends on it. As danger rises and answers surface, everything Cassidy thought she knew is tested.

In order to survive, Cassidy must take drastic measures and end the battle against the ruthless gang DH-7 once and for all. But if her final mission fails, the consequences will be as deadly as the raging undertow.

You can purchase Deadly Undertow at Amazon for $.99!

Friday, June 22, 2018

WELCOME COZY DEBUT AUTHOR, VIVIEN CHIEN, ALONG WITH A GIVEAWAY!


Today, Suspense Sisters introduces a brand, new cozy author, Vivien Chien, with book one of the Noodle Shop Mysteries, Death by Dumpling. Please leave a comment for Vivien at the end of the interview for a chance to win a signed print copy of her book. 

But first, here's a little bit about Death by Dumpling: The last place Lana Lee thought she would ever end up is back at her family’s restaurant. But after a brutal break-up and a dramatic workplace walk-out, she figures that helping wait tables is her best option for putting her life back together. Even if that means having to put up with her mother, who is dead-set on finding her a husband. Lana’s love life soon becomes yesterday’s news once the restaurant’s property manager, Mr. Feng, turns up dead―after a delivery of shrimp dumplings from Ho-Lee. But how could this have happened when everyone on staff knew about Mr. Feng’s severe, life-threatening shellfish allergy? Now, with the whole restaurant under suspicion for murder and the local media in a feeding frenzy―to say nothing of the gorgeous police detective who keeps turning up for take-out―it’s up to Lana to find out who is behind Feng’s killer order. . . before her own number is up.

ME: If you had to describe yourself in one sentence, what would you say?  

VC: I am a lover of words, a gal who likes to laugh and be silly, a huge fan of doughnuts, and too long-winded to answer this question properly in just one sentence.

ME: What do you do when you’re not writing? Any interesting hobbies?

VC: In my spare time, if I’m not at the bookstore buying all the books I can fit in my arms, I’m playing video games. I love any game that has an intricate storyline and a good amount of action. I’m no stranger to third-person shooters or a good RPG (role-playing game). I’ve found them to be one of the most effective ways to decompress from writing and/or regular daily life. I’ve also recently found myself wildly enthralled with decorative planning. (If you have no idea what that is, have fun spiraling down that rabbit hole.) Becoming a published author definitely requires you to become organized and anyone that knows me can tell you that is most certainly not me. Decorative planning gives me a way to keep my life together and have some fun while doing it.

ME: What was your favorite book as a teen or child?

VC: Any time anyone asks me this question, I struggle with the answer because I have so many that I consider my “favorite.” But here are my top three that often compete for first place: 
1.      Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume - This book was such an influential piece of work to me growing up. It stuck with me and I still reference it today.
2.      Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl - I LOVED this book and wished so many times that Willy Wonka was a real person.
3.      Claudia and Mean Janine (The Babysitters Club) by Ann M. Martin – This was the first time as a child that I read a book featuring an Asian-American character and I remember thinking I’d struck gold when I found it.

ME: What genre did you start out writing? Have you changed course? Why or why not?

VC: The first book I ever wrote was modeled after Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles. I started constructing it when I was in my teens and I had no idea what I was doing. I kept attempting to finish it, but I still had much to learn about the writing process. Later, I attempted to write a chick-lit book that fell insanely flat and I pitched it without so much as a second thought. When I discovered my love for mystery, I knew I’d found my true path. There was no turning back at that point.
(However, that original vampire story still exists in a binder and has transformed many times. It’s now a paranormal mystery and I hope one day it will grace a bookstore shelf somewhere.)

ME: What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

VC: The tough criticism I’ve received so far was from someone who said the humor in my first book felt both flat and forced. I think I took this comment to heart more than any others because I pride myself on the ability to relay my snarky humor through my writing. But like any criticism, you take it and use it to your advantage in the hopes it will make your writing better in the future.

On the flip side, the best compliment I’ve received was from a few Asian-American women who thanked me for writing the Noodle Shop series and creating an ethnic character they could relate to in the mystery genre. There are only a few us who have stories featuring Asian-American characters and I had no idea how little the number actually was. I’m proud to be one of the people to contribute to the demographic. My main goal when beginning Death by Dumpling was to write an enjoyable story with likable characters. I had no idea that Lana Lee would be someone people were searching for. That makes this series all the more special to me.

ME: Any other genres you’d like to try? If yes, what and why?

VC: If I ever got the chance, I would love to write a historical. I have such an interest in two periods of history: 1920s America and any period of China’s Imperial dynasty timeline, with a specific interest in the Tang dynasty. Random, I know, but I find both of these times extremely fascinating and would love to explore them further through writing.

ME: If you could go back in time and do something differently at the start of your career, what would it be?

VC: Even though I’ve been writing for several years, this is the start of my career. If I could go back, I would have started sooner. I spent a lot of time doubting my ability to write a readable book or the plausibility of becoming a published author. Putting yourself (and your creativity) out there for everyone to see is one of the hardest things to do.

ME: What is the most important piece of advice you’d like to give to unpublished authors?

VC: This kind of falls in line with my answer to the question above. Believe in yourself, keep pushing. At times you may not feel like you’re good enough, but keep moving forward until you get where you want to be. I was told many times that this was not an achievable dream, but trust me when I say that is a false statement.

Here's a little about the author: Vivien Chien first started writing simple stories about adventures with her classmates when she was in elementary school. As she grew up, her love of books and the written word increased, leading to the attempt of her first novel at age 16. After many struggled beginnings and several different genres, she found her passion in the mystery world. When she’s not writing, she can be found frolicking in the bookstore or searching for her next bowl of noodles. She has a soft spot for doughnuts, a healthy love for coffee, and an extreme need to participate in random acts of crafting. She currently lives in Cleveland where she is hard at work on the next book in her Noodle Shop series and writes side-by-side with her toy fox terrier.

Please leave Vivien a comment for a chance to win a copy of Death by Dumpling. Please note: You MUST leave your email address and US only.

Death by Dumpling is available on Amazon, B&N

And watch for Dim Sum of All Fears coming August 28th: 

Have a good week of reading!  Mary Ellis from 
                                  Suspense Sisters! 

Thursday, June 21, 2018

OOPs! The post Behind the Scenes went out by mistake! Check back next Wednesday for the post. Thanks for all who noticed!! :-)
Patricia Bradley

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

ANNOUNCING THE SUSPENSE SISTERS SUMMER CELEBRATION!





During the month of July we're sponsoring a great summer contest! Someone will win: A $100.00 Amazon gift card, a Suspense Sisters tote bag, a personal CD player, a fun beach towel, print books and audio books to get you through the summer. (And there may be a few other prizes during the month!)

All you have to do is stop by our blog to enter our contest. We'll also be posting some fun summer stories and recipes. 

The Suspense Sisters want to add to your "fun in the sun" so visit us on July 2nd for all the details - and to enter to win!


Tuesday, June 19, 2018

What's Hot in Inspirational Suspense and Mystery?



Hot New Inspirational Suspense and Mystery

This week Suspense Sisters is featuring six releases from Love Inspired Suspense!



Here's the back cover blurb for each:

TOP SECRET TARGET by Dana Mentink:
Her true identity is a secret

The next explosive Military K-9 Unit thriller

With his ex-wife next on a killer’s hit list, military police lieutenant Ethan Webb and his K-9 partner, Titus, must guard the woman posing as her. But courageous private investigator Kendra Bell refuses to be just bait—she wants to help bring down the killer. Can she play her part without falling for her pretend ex-husband?


VANISHED IN THE NIGHT by Lynette Eason:


Someone is after her and her baby…

Danger returns to Wrangler’s Corner

After saving Kaylee Martin from abduction and delivering her baby boy on the side of the road, Dr. Joshua Crawford can’t get them out of his mind. Unfortunately, neither can Kaylee’s violent stalker. He’ll stop at nothing to get to the new mom and her child. Can Joshua keep them safe so they can become the family he’s dreamed about?


KILLER COUNTRY REUNION by Jenna Knight


Her family’s being eliminated, one by one…

But he won’t let her be next

After gunmen attack Caroline Marsh, she’s stunned that she survives—and shocked that her rescuer is her ex-fiancé, Zane Coleman. With her family’s safety on the line, there’s no time for grudges over the past. The killers on her trail won’t give up easily. And although Zane already left her once, for her own protection, he’s not about to lose Caroline again.


DANGEROUS OBSESSION by Jessica Patch

A stalker on her tail…

The Security Specialists at her side

Security expert Wilder Flynn wastes no time putting behavioral expert Cosette LaCroix under his 24/7 protection when her stalker finds her in Atlanta. Wilder keeps Cosette close to guard her from the quickly escalating threats and attacks. But can he accomplish the mission without breaking his strict code against dating employees? Or putting his heart and life at risk?


FATAL RECALL by Carol Post:

Amnesia stole her memory—

a killer wants her dead

When Paige Tatem loses her memory, she knows just two things: she has a target on her back, and police officer Tanner Brody is the only man she trusts to protect her. As they piece together her past, Tanner wonders what lies hidden in Paige’s mind. And as the truth begins to emerge, it becomes clear that a ruthless enemy wants certain secrets to stay buried.


HIDDEN AWAY by Sharon Dunn:

She stumbled onto a smuggling ring—

and had nowhere to run

When two thieves arrive at the Montana mansion where Isabel Connor is working, undercover investigator Jason Enger isn’t sure if she’s in danger…or an accomplice. Either way, with a snowstorm trapping the pair with the violent thieves, survival depends on working together. But how can they trust each other when he’s concealing his identity…and she’s hiding dark secrets of her criminal past?


Be sure to check these awesome books out!

Monday, June 18, 2018

THIS WEEK ON THE SUSPENSE SISTERS



We’re planning another great week on the Suspense Sisters. Check out our posts, our interviews, and our awesome giveaways!

THIS WEEK:



On Tuesday Patricia Bradley will share What’s Hot in Inspirational Suspense and Mystery.



Wednesday Nancy Mehl will announce an exciting summer giveaway! Stay turned for more information! 

On Friday, we’ll introduce you to a new cozy mystery author. Don’t miss our interview with Vivien Chien. You could win a copy of her book, DEATH BY DUMPLING.

Welcome to the Ho-Lee Noodle House, where the Chinese food is to die for. . .
The last place Lana Lee thought she would ever end up is back at
her family’s restaurant. But after a brutal break-up and a dramatic workplace walk-out, she figures that helping wait tables is her best option for putting her life back together. Even if that means having to put up with her mother, who is dead-set on finding her a husband.


Lana’s love life soon becomes yesterday’s news once the restaurant’s property manager, Mr. Feng, turns up dead—after a delivery of shrimp dumplings from Ho-Lee. But how could this have happened when everyone on staff knew about Mr. Feng’s severe, life-threatening shellfish allergy? Now, with the whole restaurant under suspicion for murder and the local media in a feeding frenzy—to say nothing of the gorgeous police detective who keeps turning up for take-out—it’s up to Lana to find out who is behind Feng’s killer order. . . before her own number is up.




The Suspense Sisters! We love books!


Friday, June 15, 2018

LISA CARTER INTERVIEW...AND BOOK DRAWING!

Welcome, everyone! 
  
I'm delighted to introduce you to today's featured author, Lisa Carter. I know you'll love her interview, and  this chance to hear about her newest book release.  Those who leave a comment will be in her drawing for a free copy of her new book!       Roxanne Rustand


1. Lisa, can you tell us a little bit about your journey as a writer?

Thanks so much for hosting me today on your blog.

I have written stories in my head as far back as I can remember. As a child, I “told” myself a story every night to go to sleep. I thought everyone did this until I got to kindergarten and realized some people might find this strange. I was the kid, aka Phineas & Ferb, who made up imaginary tales for the other kids in the neighborhood to act out during summer vacation. Those stories were heavily dependent on what I’d watched on television—a combination of Star Trek meets Little House on the Prairie. Apparently, I was writing steampunk without knowing what steampunk was. J

As a teenager, I wrote stories to entertain myself, and the habit continued into adulthood whenever I had spare moments. During my children’s baby years, naptime was writing time for me. I see that period in my life as a time of honing my craft.

At age forty-five, God sort of said to me it was time to get serious about writing. So I stepped out of my comfort zone to attend a writing conference. I heard the stories of how long if ever the path to publication took so I felt pretty safe thinking I’ve got years before I have to deal with the publishing side of writing. Best laid plans . . . God had other plans. I left that conference with my first contract. Three months later, I had three more contracts. Talk about being thrown into the deep end.

I have always been drawn to writing inspirational fiction. I am more recognized for my romantic suspense, but I also have written two series of contemporary romances for Love Inspired. What I love about Christian fiction is the hope we can offer in Christ Jesus. And the opportunity to not just entertain, but to further His kingdom in people’s lives.

The writing journey for me has been a strange mix of sheer terror and absolute dependence on God every step of the way. Which for me is probably what He intended all along.

2.  If you could go back in time and do something differently in your writing career, what would it be?Actually, I’m not sure I would change anything. From the beginning, this journey has been so all God. He opened the door to my first contract, and I’m about to write my twenty-first novel. It’s been like a whirlwind, and I’m just trying to hang on. There have been been ups and downs, awards and setbacks, but I can see His purpose in all of it.

3. Tell us about your writing process. 
 It’s a total mess. I don’t encourage anyone to write the way I do. I’m not sure exactly how it even happens to tell you the truth. I get an idea, a character, a setting and/or situation. Sometimes, I get only one of these. I do a lot of thinking. A lot of research. I pray enormous amounts. And by the grace of God, somehow He helps me bring it all together and I meet my deadline.

4. What do you enjoy when you’re not writing?
 I love spending time with my family. I love to read. Writers were readers first. I used to make quilts. I’ve made over one hundred for family and friends, but now writing doesn’t allow me the time to make any more except for new babies in the family. And one more thing—I love to travel. There is some truth to the statement that I write books to feed my travel addiction. It’s kind of my job. I mean a writer has got to research, right?

5. Tell us something about yourself that might surprise your readers.
 I am a classically trained vocalist.

6.  What three pieces of advice would you give to an aspiring author? 
 Read a lot. And not just in your own genre.
Write every day. Writing is like a muscle. It gains agility with use, but can also become sluggish and atrophy if not exercised regularly.
Attend the best conference you can afford every year. Writers are lifelong learners, and the writing community is a wonderful network of support at every stage in your career.

7. You have a new book out right now, but what are you working on now, and when might that book be out?
 Right now, I’m working on my next romantic suspense novel, The Sound of Falling Leaves, which will release in 2019. This novel takes readers to the other side of North Carolina, the achingly beautiful, yet hauntingly mysterious Blue Ridge Mountains. Stay tuned.

8. Can you tell us about what led you to write your new book?  Tell us about your main characters, and the challenges they face in this story.
 When I became aware of the horrendously high statistic of veteran suicides, I was gutted. I began to think about what would cause someone so obviously heroic—so willing to give their life for others—to make the decision to end their own life after getting home. And I tried to understand why after overcoming so much, too many came home and lost the will to live.

Then one former soldier told me something profound. “Every soldier, one way or the other, returns a wounded soldier.”

I thought a lot about the cost of war on a personal level. The price, the sacrifice, that these men and women paid on our behalf. Freedom is not free.

I read about quilts of valor that are sent to wounded warriors at Walter Reed Hospital. So the idea came to me about what would happen if a recent amputee who’d lost the will to live received a quilt like that. The quilt would have given him a lot of comfort during grueling physical therapy sessions. And suppose at the end of all hope for a future beyond his injury, he decided to return the quilt to the quilt maker identified on the quilt label, express his gratitude and then end his life?

An added inducement would be that the quilt originated on the Outer Banks of North Carolina and he’d never seen the ocean before. But what would happen if the old lady quilt maker he expected turned out to be a young woman grieving her own losses? Throw in a murderer on the loose and you have yourself a story. That’s what I do, after all, I kill people on paper.

And you just know there’s got to be a happily-ever-after at the end. That’s where the romance comes in. People falling in love while dodging bullets.

Thus was born A Vast and Gracious Tide, about a grievously wounded young soldier desperate to find a reason to live again. In a Southern setting with a lot of Southern characters. Some of us have character. Others of us are characters. J

I like to describe what I write as “Sweet Tea with a Slice of Murder.”


A Vast and Gracious Tide

A murder on the tranquil beaches of the Outer Banks puts two strangers on a path to uncover the truth

Caden Wallis has suffered several devastating blows that have left him reeling. He’s lost friends and now his girlfriend to the ravages of war. He arrives on the Outer Banks for one final mission—to thank the woman who sent him a quilt while he was recuperating from his wounds at Walter Reed Army Hospital.

McKenna Dockery knows all about loss. She juggles the family business, her ailing father, and an aging grandmother. Much to Caden’s surprise, she is the quilter—not some elderly lady. The quilt was something she’d begun for her future husband but shipped to the military hospital after the tragic death of her fiancé.

When a man is found snared in a net and murdered on McKenna’s property, she and Caden must work together to bring the killer to justice. Each must learn to trust the other, or no one will be safe in the tangled web of conspiracy, greed, and deceit lurking in the tidal marshlands of the Outer Banks. A nor’easter, a sea turtle named Cecil, and a surf-crazy hound named Ginger conspire to bring these two searching hearts together through the vast and gracious tide of God’s love.

About the author...
Multi-published author Lisa Carter likes to describe her romantic suspense novels as “Sweet Tea with a Slice of Murder.” A Vast and Gracious Tide released in June 2018. The Stronghold won a 2017 Daphne du Maurier. Under a Turquoise Sky won the 2015 Carol Award. Beyond the Cherokee Trail was a 4 ½ star Romantic Times Top Pick. She also has two contemporary romance series with Love Inspired.  Currently, she is writing her twenty-first novel set in the hauntingly beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. Lisa enjoys traveling and researching her next fictional adventure. When not writing, she loves spending time with family and teaching writing workshops. A native North Carolinian, she has strong opinions on barbecue and ACC basketball.
Follow her at: