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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Why Author Diana Dempsey is HAPPY!

After an education that included time in Belgium and Japan, Diana Dempsey applied her Harvard degree to a job with Toyota. Seeking more exciting work, she landed a job at CNBC where she anchored the Financial News Network in Santa Monica. Several news jobs later, she began writing her novels full-time. Ms. Dempsey writes the Celestial Novels as well as the Ms. America Mysteries. Welcome, Diana!

Diana, I’ve completely fallen in love with the Happy Pennington “Ms. America” mystery series. I’m wondering how a former journalist and news anchor wound up writing about beauty contestants! And with such great detail, too.

The inspiration for the Ms. America series came while brainstorming for another writer.  I’m fortunate to have a great group of author friends with whom I gather every few months.  We were trying to come up with a lighthearted mystery-series concept and the notion of a beauty-queen sleuth popped into my head.  The idea didn’t resonate with Carol—fortunately—but I loved it!  Maybe that was because I have fond memories of watching beauty pageants with my family while I was growing up.  We would gather in front of the TV, pick our favorite contestants, and see how they fared.  Also, like Happy, I enjoy fashion, beauty tips, and performing in front of a camera, all of which played a role in my first career as a TV newswoman.
There are so many things I love about Happy. She loves her husband and honors her marriage vows even when there’s sexual tension with the delicious Mario Suave; her need to stay slim does not make food the enemy; and though she wants people to understand she has a brain, she’s not ashamed to be a beauty queen. What a fun, strong female character! Is she a compilation of people you’ve met? A reflection of your experiences?
I’ve never known anyone quite like Happy.  I liked the idea of a character who is exceptional in many ways yet longs for a type of recognition she rarely receives.  To my mind, Happy is an interesting mix of contradictions, like most of us.  Though she is confident and has a strong sense of self, she’s defensive about her lack of formal education and being stereotyped as an airhead.  She’s perceptive, loving, and kind, yet must struggle sometimes to be patient with her parents, her husband, and her daughter.  As the series progresses, she will find Mario Suave more and more of a temptation, yet her strong moral core will guide her way.  And while she gleefully embraces girly pleasures like fashion and makeup, she’s keen to improve her mind and driven to prove her adeptness as a crime-solver.
The Celestial Novels all have different protagonists. Are these stories standalones? Or is there a running theme that ties them together? And for readers who started out with the Happy Pennington mysteries and might be interested in branching out, what are the similarities and differences?
The celestial novels are standalones.  They’re not screwball comedies like the Ms. America mysteries: I think of them as happy-ending women’s fiction.  I always put my protagonist through a really tough time but you can count on her eventual triumph (though it may not take quite the shape you expect).  Thematically the novels are similar in that all of them feature strong women at a professional and romantic crossroads.  They differ from much women’s fiction in that work matters a great deal to my heroines: the ups and downs of career loom large.  I do lots of research to bring detail and texture to the professional settings.  All that said, romance is big, big, big in these books.  Though it may look hopeless at times, my heroine will find a man who’s as complex and wonderful as she is, and who loves her with all his heart.
CHASING VENUS begins with the murder of a mystery writer. There’s a serial killer on the loose, murdering mystery authors with methods from their own novels. What a great idea! Do you simply have a wicked imagination or do you scan the news for possible murder devices and twisted plots?
I fear you’ll think I never get an idea when I’m not with my author friends because the concept behind Chasing Venus grew out of a brainstorming session, too.  We got to thinking how space might free up on the bestseller lists if some of the most popular writers were no longer publishing.  What wicked women we must all be … J  As it happens, the character of Reid Gardner was inspired by John Walsh, the host of television’s America’s Most Wanted.  I do indeed find inspiration in news events and in the lives of real people.  I am keen on reading obituaries.

Your books are currently carried on Kindle. Will they be released in paperback?
My books are available on Kindle, Nook, Apple devices, and all electronic platforms.  I am in the process of formatting them for paperback release.  Visit my website at www.dianadempsey.com to sign up for my mailing list so you’ll be notified when they’re available in paper.
With such an extensive travel history in your resume, will we see exotic and foreign locations in future books? Perhaps a character living in Japan?
Absolutely.  I’m enjoying sending Happy around the U.S. during her reign as Ms. America and at some point she’ll compete overseas.  I haven’t settled yet on where that pageant will be held.  Perhaps in Rio?  That sounds fun!  In Too Close to the Sun, winemaker Gabby DeLuca travels to Italy.  I expect to feature exotic locales in future celestial novels.
What’s next on your agenda?
Right now I’m writing the third installment in the Ms. America series.  Happy is in Miami.  Here’s a sneak peak!



I, for one, can't wait!  Thank you so much for taking the time to visit, Diana!

You can find Diana's books on Kindle, and  Nook, as well as for Apple devices. Don't forget to check out Diana's website!  And don't forget to check out my review of "Ms. America and the Villainy in Vegas"at http://jacquelinevickauthor.blogspot.com/2012/06/three-new-books-to-love.html .

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Rebel Mystery Author Marilyn Meredith Breaks the Rules

 Marilyn Meredith can break the writing rules. Why? Because she's just...that...good. Here's a little bit about Marilyn before you read her post, but don't forget to go a-l-l-l-l-l the way to the end so you can get in on her great contest!

Bio: Marilyn Meredith is the author of over thirty published novels, including the award winning Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series, the latest Raging Water from Mundania Press. Writing as F. M. Meredith, her latest Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novel us No Bells, the forth from Oak Tree Press. Marilyn is a member of EPIC, three chapters of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. Visit her at http://fictionforyou.com and follow her blog at http://marilymeredith.blogspot.com/

Marilyn borrows a lot from where she lives in the Southern Sierra for the town of Bear Creek and the surrounding area.

Weather as Another Character

Though many authors include weather as part of their scene, using it sometimes to evoke feelings of foreboding or comfort, we’ve all been warned against beginning a story with weather. 

The murder of two best friends almost takes a back seat to everything else that happens during an unrelenting storm.

In my latest Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery, weather is an important part of the story as unceasing rain causes big problems for Tempe and the town of Bear Creek. The river that runs through it begins to flood, threatening homes on either side. 

Displaced persons need to be fed and housed. Hutch’s church takes in many refugees and feeds more. Bear Creek Inn prepares meals for others.

Residents with homes above the flooding take in other who are displaced.

Tempers flare.

A mud slide across the road cuts Bear Creek off making it impossible for anyone to leave. 

Supplies dwindle. 

It’s possible the murderer is trapped in town.

Tempe wonders if anything else bad can happen when lightning strikes a power pole and takes out the electricity.

Rain turns to snow....

In Raging Water, the weather is Tempe’s biggest foe.

Raging Water Blurb: Deputy Tempe Crabtree’s  investigation of the murder of two close friends is complicated when relentless rain turns Bear Creek into a raging river. Homes are inundated and a mud slide blocks the only road out of Bear Creek stranding many—including the murderer.

I know there are some people who like to read a series in order, but let me reassure you that every book is complete. Though the characters grow through each book, the crime is always solved. Here is the order of the books for anyone who wants to know: Deadly Trail, Deadly Omen, Unequally Yoked, Wing Beat, Intervention, Calling the Dead, Judgment Fire, Kindred Spirits, Dispel the Mist, Invisible Path, Bears With Us, Raging Water.

Contest: The person who leaves comments on the most blogs will have his/her name used for a character in my next book—can choose if you want it in a Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery or a Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novel.

And don't forget to check out the history of this blog for reviews on Marilyn's books! Raging Water is available in both paperback and ebook format at Amazon, as well as other bookstores.