Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

Welcome to this blog hop. What is a blog hop? It’s a virtual event that helps readers discover new authors. The first author tags five others whose work he or she admires, who each tag five more, who each tag five more, and so on. If you’re reading this, then the world did not, in fact, end on December 21st, which leaves you another millennia or so of reading pleasure. Why not start with the authors I spotlight after this Q&A?

Before we get to the questions, I’d like to thank Chester Campbell for inviting me to participate. His Burke Hill thrillers, a post Cold War espionage trilogy, surely deserve to be the Next Big Thing. The first one, BEWARE THE JABBERWOCK, is offbeat, fast-moving and a world class thriller inspired by the real-life adventures of an FBI agent. THE POKSU CONSPIRACY, Book No. 2 in the Burke Hill thrillers, takes place mostly in South Korea, and is now available on Kindle. The third book will be titled OVERTURE TO DISASTER.

For more about Chester and his books, see his web site at
In this particular hop, the five authors I’ve chosen and I will each answer, on our respective blogs, the same 10 questions ranging from our current works in progress to our writing processes and beyond.  I hope you’ll enjoy learning about our work. Please feel free to share comments and questions.
Now, here is my Next Big Thing!

1: What is the working title of your book?
My first book in the Penny Mackenzie series is ABSINTHE OF MALICE, published by Krill Press in 2008. My work-in-progress has a working title of METAPHOR FOR MURDER.

2: Where did the idea come from for the WIP?
From the manager of the gift shop in China Alley, Hanford, California. China Alley is called “Shanghai Street” in my series but the real thing exists. Except for its restaurants, China Alley was deserted for years but restoration is now an ongoing process. My friend was also cleaning up the old Chinese cemetery on the outskirts of town. Taken together, with the history and folklore surrounding them, the Alley and the cemetery made a perfect hook for a mystery.

I had already set my series in a small Central California town in the Fresno area, and my protagonist was Lifestyle Editor of the local newspaper, so slotting in the Chinese story was a perfect fit.

3: What genre does your book come under?
Cozy/amateur sleuth – Miss Marple in pantyhose. By Book #2 (my WIP) my protagonist  also has a lover. They have progressed beyond the friends-with-benefits stage.

4: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Good question. I’ll take a stab at an answer. For the protag, my first choice would have been Audrey Hepburn when she was 50 and if she had put on a few extra pounds. Alas, Audrey is long gone, so maybe Sandra Bullock would fit the character. For her lover – Patrick Dempsey might work. He’s the epitome of cool, with enough smolder-and-swagger to make him irresistible. He had a nose job which made him look suitably  mature and rugged. The rest of the cast is up for grabs.

5: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? My logline comes courtesy of Thomas B. Sawyer, who knows a thing or two about a synopsis. Quoting: “A small town reporter tracks an offbeat Christmas story and finds herself in the middle of a murder and the mysterious desecration of an old Chinese cemetery.”

6: Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency?
I published Book #1 myself through iUniverse in 2001. In 2008 Krill Press came along and me an offer I couldn’t refuse, so that book has a history. As for Book #2, who knows? Maybe Krill Press will be interested. If not, I might find another small publisher who doesn’t require an agented book. If not, self-publishing is a whole new ballgame these days. I could take my manuscript downtown to Mardel Books and have them crank up their Espresso Machine and print out 10 copies while I waited. Or I could go straight to Amazon’s Kindle for an e-book original.

7: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
That’s a trick question, right? For Book #1, I started from scratch and on a whim. It took me about four years, umpteen online writing classes and about nine “final drafts” before I finally said, put a fork in it, it’s done. As for my WIP, it has been making slow-to-no  progress since 2003. That’s 10 years. Life interfered. I should be writing a memoir instead of a mystery.

I’m halfway through METAPHOR FOR MURDER – 16 chapters polished to a high gloss and the rest strung out in Post-it notes on my story board. Maybe January will be my magic month. Or February.

8: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I refuse to answer that on the grounds that I would sound self-serving or just plain silly. Seriously, I would have to do a lot of thinking to answer that and my thinking time is limited this month.

9: Who or what inspired you to write this book?
True story. When I worked as a reporter/feature writer at The Hanford Sentinel, the editor decided to add book reviews to the Sunday paper. I went to the library and walked along the shelves, pulling out books that looked interesting. They turned out to be mysteries. A few weeks later I took a break on the smokers’ patio and said to the managing editor, who was also out for a smoke: “I think I’ll write a mystery. How hard can it be?” You can file that under Famous Last Words.

That was for the first book. For my WIP, I explained that in Q#2.

10: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
The Chinese experience in California is the subject of several good books, both fiction and non-fiction. My book touches on it, thanks to the setting. Romance readers might be more interested in the love affair – the second time around – between two characters pushing 50.

Read on to learn more about the following authors who responded to my “tag.”
1. Bob Avey
2. Amanda Ball
3. Vickie Britton
4. Shalanna Collins
5. Janet Dawson


  1. Great blog, Pat. Looking forward to seeing Penny again.

    Susan Santangelo

  2. Good job, Pat. Now get busy on No. 2. I don't want to wait another five years.