A Great Review from Mary Firmin, Author of Deadly Pleasures

What could be better than a hot, handsome guy chasing you? Why, two hot, handsome guys chasing you–and Twila Taunton knew she was a very lucky girl. 

It all started at the company picnic when Harland O’Conner got shot. Like a Good Samaritan, Twila accompanied Harland to the hospital, where she meets hot, handsome man number two, Horton O’Conner.  He is a cop. Well, things progress and Harland allows Twila to help in his P.I. Agency while he is trying to heal from his gunshot wounds. In typical Twila fashion she takes over the company and even takes on new cases, much to Harland’s chagrin. 

Her main focus is trying to find out who shot Harland. To complicate matters even further Twila’s, Great Aunt Essie, along with her pet pig, comes to visit and then moves in; she is determined to help at the P.I. office. 

What follows is a chaotic stream of kidnapping, shots fired, drug manufacturing, and a lot of evil men on the hunt for Twila. But all the while she is trying to decide which one of the Golden Boys she likes the most. 

The author has done a fabulous job of weaving in all the twists and turns, both crime wise and relationship wise. She leaves us all guessing until the very end, and then sets us up so we are dying to read the next book. 

Bravo, Ms. Jackson, this book is edge-of-your-seat exciting, and extremely well written. I really can’t wait for the next one.

Mary Firmin, author, Deadly Pleasures.

Thank you very muc, Mary.

Speculative Fiction by Author Bryan Murphy

Noir, literary speculative fiction, near future, and Portugal in the 1970’s — I know readers are going to love this interview with author Bryan Murphy, a self-professed anarchist, and something of a nomad.

Bryan, tell us about your genre.
Because my stories are usually set in the near future, you might call them speculative fiction. Anyway, a reviewer recently wrote about “Murder By Suicide”: “It definitely came across as more literary and less genre (assuming literary = heavy on psychology and genre = heavy on plot).”
Do you write a detailed list of your character’s habits, likes, dislikes and family members?
I ought to, but I don’t. Whenever I ask, they tell me I should know already.
Which of your books would you like to feature in this post?
“Goodbye, Padania”.
Literary speculative fiction: a noir thriller set in the near future.
Daria Rigoletti is a young woman from the south of Italy. Seduced by a priest, she never forgets and never forgives. Years later, she is in the independent, racist state of Padania, which has been carved out of the north of today’s Italy. She has a contract to fulfil, a contract to kill. At the last moment, the look in her assigned victim’s eyes stops her, and from then on Daria herself is on the run. She transforms herself from contract assassin to people-smuggler to cult leader, but circumstances combine against her attempts to give up killing.
Fictions doesn’t often have a message. Does yours have one?
Well, the main aim of the book is to entertain, but there is indeed an underlying message, which is that a racist state in the heart of Europe would benefit nobody, not even the racists themselves.
Choose one character from the book and tell us what he/she would say to you if he/she was to meet you.
Daria. “What are you staring at?” But in Italian, and not so politely.
She’s a great character. I have read your book and I loved her. It’s not always easy for a man to create a believable woman in literature. Did you self-publish or query and hope a publisher would accept your work?
An anarchist like me had to go for self-publishing.
How did that work out for you?
It saved me time and money, but it has yet to make me rich or well known.
Maybe one day… What advice do you have for your fellow writers/authors?
Go for it.
If you want to write – write!! Tell us about your next project.
For a change, I’m going back in time, to Portugal in the 1970s. Ah, the joys of hindsight. The main character is an Englishman who arrives in Lisbonin the last months of the fascist regime with plans to get rich by modernising the country’s supermarkets. The “Carnation Revolution” scuppers those plans and forces him to reinvent himself. He falls in love, of course, gets infected by utopian enthusiasm, suffers disillusion, but in the end heads off to the brave new world of  post-communist Angola with great expectations of business success. In a sense, he comes full circle: a survivor, but still a dreamer. The challenge for me is to make readers identify with him without glossing over his darker side.
So historical fiction maybe. Give us a good reason to want to buy your book.
I think you will find “Goodbye, Padania” both entertaining and thought-provoking. Daria is an intriguing character: a cold-blooded killer who just wants to be a normal young woman. You will see an Italy that you can never have imagined, one which, unfortunately, might be coming our way. It is a novella: a nourishing snack for hungry bookworms with little time to read.
Please include a paragraph about you, your family, your interests… anything you’d like people to know about you.
I am a child of Albion, but I have spent almost all my adult life outside the UK. I used my ability to teach English as a foreign language as a passport to interesting places in interesting times: Portugal, Angola, Hong Kong, Thailand …
I was the first person on the Irish side of my family to get a university degree, though my father got one after me. The English side also boasts some Indian ancestors. My better half is Italian, of Chinese origin.
Nowadays, I divide my time among England, Italy, the wider world and cyberspace.
What made you decide to be a writer/author?
I spent my most of working life either teaching English or translating and editing written documents. When I retired, a year ago, I promised myself I would concentrate on my own words from then on.
What are your hobbies/passions/pastimes?
I’m an incorrigible sceptic. Also a theatre, cinema and voice actor. I’ve been the former all my life; I took up acting a few years ago.
Is there a key cause you support?
Tonbridge Angels Football Club. No, not many people have. In England, you support your home-town team, however small, and it’s a life-long commitment.
Where can we find out more about you and your work?

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/bmzm

Special Guest – Historical Poetry Writer Sharla Shults

I’m honored to feature author and poet Sharla Shults on my blog today. Not only is she an amazing person, she is also a very prolific writer, and her poetry tells the story of America and the great sacrifices our forefathers made to enhance our lives. Part of the proceeds of her books are donated to our brave military veterans.

Sharla, please tell us about your writing.
I write inspirational and historical poetry, which to me is the personification of freedom. It is the freedom to see life at its best or at its worse, reflect on happiness as well as sorrow, be an adult or the child that is in all of us and expose nature as a diamond in the rough. It is a means for sharing love, dreams and inspirations to send a heart racing, free a heart of grief or perhaps even offer a path for forgiveness. Whisperings from the past deliver messages that reveal themselves as happy whisperings from the heart, melancholy whisperings from the mind, or quiet whisperings from the soul.
What do you think today’s readers want and how does it differ from readers of the past?
Reading is individualistic. As for my thoughts, readers today want mystery engrained with suspense and crime, and of course, sci-fi. Vampires still reign from way before the dawning of Dark Shadows to the emergence of Twilight. This is a different age, a different world, a modern world filled with intrigue and violence on a daily basis. Unfortunately, blood and guts are as common as ketchup and shredded onions. Readers of the past wanted more romance, poetry, and definitely tales of the Old West.
Of course, you may already be wondering where does this leave me and why would my writing be more reflective of poetry, rather than fiction more reflected of modern times? Stories before, during, and after war have always been popular since they embrace the past with visions into the future. Thus, enters Awakenings. In reading on, hopefully a light bulb will appear and perhaps even an ‘aha’ moment, a trigger of inspiration.
Tell us about the book you want to feature in this post.
Awakenings from Then ’til Now, Embrace the Past, Empower the Present, Enrich the future
Awakenings from Then ’til Now is historical poetry. Yes, that is correct, poetry and of all things, history! Oh, my, I may have stepped out onto a ship’s plank awaiting my destiny within a watery grave only to rest among ghosts of times past.  Not so, for through whisperings of the past, we hear echoes of the future.
Oh, sea, mighty warrior of all times
Let loose your triumphant vessels
Relinquish the esteemed memories
Once washed away like sandcastles
History books have often been classified as boring whereas history by its own nature is very poignant. As with the verse above that echoes of the sea, Awakenings echoes of America’s past over five centuries within times of tremendous sacrifice, times where hope, faith and courage were the cornerstones. From European shores, families traversed treacherous seas enduring sickness, disease and suffering in search of a better life. Little did they know the hardships had only just begun…
Does this wonderful book have a message?
Yes, indeed! There is an immediate need for a wake-up call ensuring the principles and honor upon which America was built remain steadfast. Thus, the title: Awakenings from Then ’til Now. Our life’s blood stems from our fathers whose fathers’ fathers lived and died to make this country free. And, their mothers endured pain and suffering beyond our imagination. Within the pages of Awakenings are accounts of extreme sacrifice and heart-rending emotion. At the heart of Awakenings are verses echoing the blood and guts of America’s freedom: Freedom that came with a price. We, as descendants of the early pioneers, need to remain forever gilded in rays of hope, faith and courage.
“In every conceivable manner, the family is the link to our past, bridge to our future.”
—Alex Haley
Therein lays the ultimate question: “What is your place in America’s ancestral chain?”
Did you self-publish or query and hope a publisher would accept your work?
I had two manuscripts accepted by a traditional publisher. My knowledge of independent publishing was non-existent at that time. I have learned a lot over the past year mainly due to wonderful connections with other authors who have openly been willing to share their successes and pitfalls of self-publishing.
How did that work out for you?
So far I have been very pleased with my publisher having encountered only one major hurdle which resulted in setbacks for the official release date. In reflection of setback, this may have been a blessing in disguise for it allowed additional time for review and editing that opened a window for my own discovery and pointers for personal reflection.
What do you do to promote your writing?
Write, write, write! That’s right, one of the best ways to promote my writing is for me to keep writing. I maintain two blogs, write short stories for Storylane, compose poetry and develop articles on demand. One of my biggest challenges has been participation in a free write which on occasion takes me totally outside my comfort zone. I also promote other authors on my blog sites and participate in online interviews such as this one as often as possible. Newspaper, magazine and blog talk radio interviews are in the making, which hopefully will broaden communication specifically about my latest book, Awakenings.
I do my best to keep my name circulating on a regular basis maintaining an active social network, i.e., LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Scoop.it, Pinterest, etc. The more incoming traffic on my web sites and blogs, the more my name or the name of my book will come up in search engine results. 
What advice do you have for your fellow writers/authors?
If you have a dream as a writer, wake up and bring it to life! When you have random thoughts, write them down, keep pen and paper handy or simply let your fingers stroll across the keyboard rhythmically placing the words as they naturally flow. Think of the words as ingredients which when melded together could form the most delicious recipe. Each thought imbues an important taste of life. Who knows what recipe might be created from any one single ingredient, or combination for that matter, necessary to enhance its flavor, perhaps a mystical spice, a romantic zing, a blackened horror or even poetic essence of love.
So beautifully explained. Tell us about your next project.
Already on the writing board is catnipoflife. This venture returns to the inspirational realm of poetry. Catnip represents people with dreams, places filled with awareness and things thoughtfully remembered. . .
. . . Dreams filled with hope, faith and courage​
. . . Places where random thoughts, fleeting comments and quiet whisperings come together to offer solitude, comfort, friendship and even laughter
. . . Things whispering of the past, present and future where souls meet, rivers cross and hearts entwine
Captivating moments are right before our eyes, music to our ears, within our very grasp and under our nose waiting to be enjoyed. These are the essence of catnipoflife.
How would we benefit from buying your book?
If you want to know more about the hardships endured in the founding of America and establishing her freedom but do not want to resort to the informational text of a history book, then this is the book for you.
If you want to learn more about ‘from whence you came’ with a better understanding of your ancestry, then this is definitely the book to read.
If you want to experience the sacrifices, feel the emotion, relish in the joys and sorrows from the past in order for you to enjoy the freedoms America has to offer today, then, do not miss reading this book.
If you want to make a personal connection to past events, then not only read this book but also engage in the opportunities within the text for personal journal reflections.

If you want to educate your children about their personal connection to America, read this book, complete the personal reflections and pass it on to your son(s) or daughter(s) to read. Not only will they learn about America in a much different format from that which is presented in school but they will learn THEIR connection to America – Awakenings past, present and future.


My childhood experiences revolve around a small southwestern Georgia town where education played a most important role. I followed in my dad’s footsteps and attended Troy State University, Troy AL in pursuance of my teaching degree in mathematics and science. At the time I was in school, Troy was (is still BTW) very well known for studies and entrance into the education field. After graduation, I taught for four years and then, in light of a very substantial pay increase, left teaching and ventured into the railroad industry. This in turn, led me to my soulmate and eventually a return into education until my retirement in 2008. Even in retirement I still work in education but as an Online Education Specialist (fancy title for teaching online instead of in the classroom). The difference is that now my students are teachers. What makes it really special are the times I encounter those who were once my classroom students are now my students again but in a totally different environment. Now that is having come full circle! What a blessing!
Being a mathematician by nature is a strange beginning for a writer of poetry. As a child and even into adulthood, never did the vision of becoming a writer materialize. Not until much, much later in life did this gift emerge. How DID it begin? Well, one day an angel sat on my shoulder and began whispering in my ear. Days and nights ran together as the words poured from my thoughts onto paper. That, of course, would be any kind of paper on hand at the time. It was not unusual for the quiet whisperings to come at any hour of the night, perhaps even in dreams, and if not written down at the moment faded as swiftly as the rising sun. My passion for writing persists to this day and I never know when a random thought, a fleeting comment or a whispering from the past will trigger the next verse. For you see, I am not the writer, but only the messenger from His hand to mine, from my heart to yours. . .
To my husband, my soulmate, who inspires me in so many ways and still remains able to sometimes get a good night’s sleep, all is not lost in my dreams.
Through my writing, I invite everyone to open your heart, mind and soul to opportunities to remember, discover and reflect. . .

NOTE: Awakenings from Then ’til Now is dedicated to those who laid the foundation and established the platform for our American freedom: those who have served in the past, presently serve, or will serve our military forces in the future. Proceeds from sales of Awakenings benefit the Wounded Warriors Program and Veterans of Foreign Wars. This is purely a personal decision and in no way connected to either program for advertisement or endorsement.
Where can we find out more about you and your work?
Personal Website: sharlashults.com/
Inspirational Blog: catnipoflife.wordpress.com/
Wix.comAwakenings: http://www.poetrybysharla.com/ 

Author Spotlight – Stuart Carruthers – Near-fi Writer

I have to confess I don’t actually know what near-fi is, but I do know Stuart Carruthers is a man of action. When he got tired of the English winters, he moved to Taiwan, a country with a warmer climate, which he has made his permanent home. The proverbial “they” always advise writers to write about what they know, so it is not surprising that Stuart’s stories are mostly set in Asia. Stuart writes novels and short stories; sci-fi, hard boiled pulp fiction, and thrillers.

Stuart, are you a pantser or plotter? (Do you write by the seat of your pants or do you create the plot before you start?)

80% pantser 20% plotter. It’s good to have an idea of where it’s going.

Some authors write a detailed list of their character’s habits, likes, dislikes and family members. Are you one of them?

No, I let them build their own story.

What do you think today’s readers want and how does it differ from readers of the past?

Short stories should make a come-back as we have less time to concentrate on a long plot.

I think short stories are making a come-back for that reason. You’ve written a few novels and several short stories. Which book would you like to feature in this post?

Eat your Greens
It’s a near-fi novel. In the not too distant future the fuel wars caused governments to close in on themselves and in the UK, the borders were closed and in an effort to cure obesity the government manufactured calorie controlled kelp bars to ensure everyone was healthy. That was just the start and eventually it was the only food allowed. Kelp had become the answer to everything and was used to manufacture everything from clothes to polymers and fuel. Everything had green hue and life was dull. Max, recruited Jenny to help him sabotage the world’s supply of Jenny and this leads both of them on an exciting journey through the kelp forests of the world, down the coast of Africa for a finale in an independent Borneo.

I love it. The way the New York mayor, Michael Bloomberg is trying to control what people can drink could be the real start of that! Choose one character from the book and tell us what he/she would say to you if he/she was to meet you.

Max would complain about the relentless green life and the fact that the sun never seems to shine. He would be careful as spies are everywhere.

Did you self-publish or query and hope a publisher would accept your work?

Self-publish initially and then query.

That makes sense to me. What do you do to promote your writing?

Tweet, write blog articles and use social media.

What advice do you have for your fellow writers/authors?

Keep plugging away and remember that you must aim to finish at least one book. Once you’ve done that it gets a bit easier.

That’s a great point. Tell us about your next project.

It will be the third Harry Patterson novella, this time set in Taiwan.

Why should we buy your book?

I need the recognition and the love? Buy it because you want a good romp through a near future world where there is still some fight in a world and one man isn’t ready to lie down and except it.

Please include a paragraph about you, your family, your interests… anything you’d like people to know about you.

I was born in England, where I lived until 2005 when I decided to sell everything and move to Taiwan because “no one I know has ever been there”. Several years later I married and had two children. With two small children, my time for hobbies is limited, so right now I just use my time to write.

Where can we find out more about you and your work? I read one of the vignette’s on your blog and loved it!!


Dan O’Brien – Sci-Fi and Fantasy Thriller Author

I’m thrilled to feature author Dan O’Brien today. Dan is a firm believer in self-publishing and says “I will continue to publish in that arena until it is no longer viable.” I think this is great encouragement for Indie writers who are uncertain which way to go.

Dan, you write in a variety of genres, though you say you feel especially partial to science fiction and fantasy. Are you a pantser? Or are you a plotter?
A little bit of both honestly.
Is there a particular method you use?
I generally write a kind of living outline with major plot points and things I find interesting that I want to make sure make it into the chapters. However, if the story changes as I am writing it, I will certainly amend my previous instructions.
Writing in first person, present (“I walk to the door and open it”), as opposed to “He walks to the door and opens it,” or “I walked to the door and opened it,” has been controversial in the past, but now it seems to be the trend for best-selling authors. Do you think it is more powerful than other tenses?
I have a novel called The Path of the Fallen, which was originally in two parts. The first part was in first person and the second part was in third person. I omitted the first part for this exact reason. When I started out writing it was frowned upon by most publishers. I now releasing an unabridged edition that integrates this point of view back in once more. I found that beta readers really enjoyed the immersive first-person experience.
I agree. I think an author is able to portray a greater intensity of emotion that way. What do you think today’s readers want and how does it differ from readers of the past?
I think brief is better for this generation of readers. I am working on a monthly serial for this exact reason.
I think you’re right. Tell us about the book you want to feature in this post.
The Path of the Fallen
It is a science fiction fantasy novel that is free on Amazon starting tomorrow (Thursday). Set against the backdrop of the tundra and a world desperate for hope, the journey of a young man, E’Malkai, will come to define a realm that has been broken by an evil that does not sleep. A bitter betrayal, and the inception of a war that will consume the world, forces E’Malkai to confront the past and undertake a pilgrimage that is his by birthright. Follow him on his journey and be transformed.
Can you tell me about your ideal reader?
I would hope for someone who enjoys being challenged about the nature of good and evil, as well as having a robust appetite for epic novels. Honestly, I am just looking for a reader who enjoys a good story.
Does your book have a message?
It is a meditation on the nature of good and evil. I like the murky line that divides heroes from villains, especially the circumstances that  created the personality that comes to be loved or hated.
Choose one character from the book and tell us what he/she would say to you if he/she was to meet you.
I would choose E’Malkai and he would most certainly wonder why I have thrust him into this bleak world where he never knew his father and was asked to lead a world in a way that he might not be capable of doing. There would probably be a certain amount of name calling and frustration on both sides.
Did you self-publish or query and hope a publisher would accept your work and how did that work out for you?

When I originally wrote this book in 2004, I queried with publishers and agents because at the time I had only worked within the traditional publishing framework. Now, I am a firm believer in the independent publishing framework.  
What do you do to promote your writing?
Everything. Haha. I try to focus my efforts where readers are looking for the types of stories I am writing, both digitally and in print. 
Why should we buy your book?
If you love epic science fiction and fantasy, you will enjoy the narrative. People have been pleased with it for the most part and identify with a character in the story on some level. I would invite readers to have a free look on my blog or pick up for free starting this Thursday and decide for themselves.
Do you have any advice for your fellow writers/authors?
Have a sense of humor. Write when you don’t want to. Stop whining. (My three rules)
Yes!  I really like that. It is excellent advice. Tell us about your next project.
I am publishing two regional anthologies (northern California and Wyoming), an unabridged version of The Path of the Fallen, a re-release of The Ocean and the Hourglass, a monthly zombie serial, and the sequel to Bitten.
Sounds like you are super busy. Please include a paragraph about you, your family, your interests… anything you’d like people to know about you.
I have written 12 novels (all before the age of 30) including the bestselling Bitten, which was featured on Conversations Book Club’s Top 100 novels of 2012. Before starting Amalgam, I was the senior editor and marketing director for a national magazine, in addition to spending over a decade in the publishing industry as a freelance editor. I completed my graduate work in psychology with an emphasis on statistical and behavioral analysis.
Where can we find out more about you and your work?

Interview with Mystery Thriller Author, Mary Firmin

My guest today, Mary Firmin, had a unique reason for wanting to become a writer, and so far she has been very successful.

Mary, please share your story. I know everyone reading this will love it.

I have always loved to read and wanted to write but never had time. One day, my friend and I decided we wanted to go on The Tonight Show. We thought our best shot would be if we wrote a book. We looked up in the UCLA Catalogue and found a class called, “How to Write the Bestseller.” Well, that was for us, so we signed up. We both fell in love with the process of writing and continued on with the teacher of that class for many years in a private workshop. My first book, Voodoun Fire, got me an agent and for a while I thought that book would fly but it didn’t. I then tackled a screenplay, Rhumba, with a friend of mine.  I still love that piece of work but the partnership broke up. Then I got a new idea. Years ago someone told me about four guys in Hollywood who had hired a woman to serve their sexual needs. They rented an apartment for her and paid her a monthly fee and it seemed to work.  I thought maybe I would create a murder mystery surrounding these four men.  The, one day I was on my morning walk on Venice Boardwalk and I thought why couldn’t four women do the same thing? And Deadly Pleasures was born. I believe that I truly found my voice in this book. Of course I have not yet made it to the Tonight Show and neither did my friend, and we really didn’t expect to. But, when we decided to take that class at UCLA my life was inexorably altered.  And I am very grateful.

Do you only write mysteries, or have you tried other genres?

I write only in the Mystery Genre. I tried out Horror but it did not work for me, although I do have two horror stories in a multi-author anthology, The Speed of Dark. I am presently writing the second book in Deadly series, Deadly Secrets.

Who doesn’t love murder mysteries? 

Writers are either pantsers, who write by the seat of their pants and the story just unfolds as they write, or plotters, who create a plot before they start to write the book. Which are you? 

I didn’t plot when I wrote Deadly Pleasures, and I learned a lot during the process. But I have a full outline for my second novel, Deadly Secrets. I am using a lot of the characters from Deadly Pleasures but I am highlighting different characters this time and creating new ones. 

Now that you are plotting, is there any particular method you can recommend?

Since this is the first time I have used a formal plot all I can say is, using the characters from Deadly Pleasures in the new plot was easy, so far. I decided what results I wanted, the setting, and then just wove in the characters I needed to accomplish the story.

I have found it necessary to know a fair amount about each character’s background to make them more believable. Do you create a detailed list of your character’s habits, likes, dislikes and family members?

Yes, one of the difficulties with this new book is remembering everything I had already created in the first book. I have found I do have to know their background, habits, back story, if you will, in order to maintain continuity.

You’ve had a lot of success with Deadly Pleasures. What do you think today’s readers want and how does it differ from readers of the past?

Readers seem to want more and more erotic novels. Just look at 50 Shades of Grey.  I have some bondage in my book but it seems to be not enough for some readers. 

That sounds like good news for romance writers. Please tell us more about Deadly Pleasures.

 Deadly Pleasures by Mary Firmin.
Deadly Pleasures is a murder mystery with a very interesting twist.
Described as “Sex and the City Meets James Patterson,” by Blueink Review.
Megan Riley and her three best friends are unhappy with the men in their lives and decide to hire a time-share Boytoy. They choose hunky stripper Michael Harrington, unaware he is a suspect in a series of grisly murders. Enter the hot, handsome Detective Matt Donovan — and Megan falls madly in love. Donovan and his partner, Detective Angelle Bentley, are investigating the gruesome killings of several young prostitutes that members of the press are calling The Bondage Murders.  In her desperation to help her friends, Megan attempts her own investigation and ends up in some pretty outrageous situations that cause Matt Donovan to regard her as a suspect, even as he realizes he has feelings for her. During their search for the Bondage Murder, the two detectives, Matt and Angelle, embark on a wild ride through L.A.’s private sex clubs, lewd bondage parlors and the fabulous homes and yachts of the wealthy members of a Southern California yacht club. Finally, it takes them to the rugged and beautiful coastline of Catalina Island for the terrifying finale. But who will be the next to die?  The intrepid Megan Riley, Real Estate Agent to the rich;  Alex Grant who married her tycoon husband for his money; Rachel Feinman in a loveless marriage with her screenwriter husband, David; or poor pathetic Kathleen who was recently divorced by the smarmy television newsman, Gino Rosario?  But, who is the Bondage Murderer? And who will escape the harrowing ride and the death-defying ending on the high seas?

It sounds like a very unique, daring, and exciting story. Did you self-publish or query and hope a publisher would accept your work?

I self-published with iUniverse.  Their services were excellent but expensive.
My husband bought the publishing package for me for Christmas. Unfortunately, he passed away six months later and never got to see the finished book. That was devastating.  He spent a lot of money because he wanted the best for me. I am very pleased with the cover, the type, the layout of the book. The editing services were incredible. But, as I say, it was expensive.

What an awesome gift. Your husband must have been a wonderful man, and how sad he never got to see how well you’ve done. What do you do to promote your writing?

The first 3 months I had a Publicity Agent from iUniverse.  She was quite good and spread the word. I did TV and radio shows in the Desert. (Palm Springs area.) I work tirelessly on twitter, which I think is a fabulous marketing tool. I use Linked-in. In fact I was in the top ten% of most contacted. I also use Facebook. I belong to a Twitter Group and that is very helpful. The book is well reviewed and was in the top 2%-5% for a very long time on Amazon.

What advice do you have for your fellow writers/authors?

Just Keep Writing.  As Harold Robbins once told our group, ‘You need to put ass glue on your chair and do not get up until you have written at least ten pages.’  I think that is great advice and sometimes I follow it.

What would you say to convince us to buy your book?

If you like Mysteries this is a fabulous book, laced with humor. What these ladies attempt to do is beyond the pale. There are a few graphic Bondage scenes but they are lightweight compared to other books. When you have finished this book you will realize that having money and position does not protect you from the problems of life and love.  The story takes place in a Southern California Yacht Club, and moves to Malibu, San Francisco and Catalina Island.  Readers Favorite awarded Deadly Pleasures a Gold Medal, first place, in the Mystery Genre in their 2012 International Book Contest.   Also, see reviews on Amazon.

You’ve mentioned your next project is part of a series.

Yes, I am working on Deadly Secrets, the second book in a series of 3 Deadly Books.

If the first book is anything to go by, I’m sure readers will love it. Thank you so much for being on my blog and I hope the second book sells as well or better than the first.

Mary’s Bio

Mary Firmin was born in England, raised in Canada and arrived in California by way of Florida.  For many years she taught dancing for Arthur Murray Dance Studio, owning her own franchise in Florida. Eventually, she studied for her Real Estate License and began her career in Santa Monica. She also worked in Malibu, Pacific Palisades, and Brentwood. Mary and her husband, Bill, were members of a Yacht Club for many years and traveled to Catalina most weekends. She was eventually promoted through her company to become Vice President. Mary has three children, and one grandchild. She and her husband left their condo on the Beach and moved to the Desert after they retired from Real Estate. She now lives in Rancho Mirage.  Mary has attended writing classes and seminars at UCLA, and then moved to a private class in Westwood where she found her mentor. She has always been in a writers group and belongs to Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Women in Film, and the Palm Springs Writers Guild.  She is presently working on Deadly Secrets, the second book in a series of three Deadly Books. Mary loves to write, play golf, dance, and spend time with her family, especially her grandson, Charlie, and all her friends.

Find out more about Mary at the links below:

Interview with Actress and Suspense Writer D.M. Pirrone

Author and actress Diane Piron-Gelman, aka D. M. Pirrone, with her extensive knowledge of history, writes the kind of books that span several decades and pull at your deepest emotions.

Thank you for joining me on my blog today, Diane. First would you please tell us what genres you write.

            I write mainly mystery/suspense, contemporary and historical. The novel I’m working on at the moment is a bit of a departure for me. There’s a crime at its heart—a stolen infant—but the story itself is less about the crime than about its effect on the lives of the characters over a period of roughly 20 years. So I guess that puts me in Jodi Picoult or Anna Quindlen territory, mainstream women’s fiction.

Wow! Jodi Picault is my most favorite author in the whole world. Are you a plotter or a pantser? (You write by the seat of your pants and the story is all there in your head.)  

            A combination of pantser and plotter, I’d say. My first two books I outlined as I went along, maybe six or seven chapters at a time. Then, as plot ideas occurred to me based on what I’d written, or weaknesses in the story arc became apparent, I’d change stuff and outline ahead a little more. For my third manuscript, a sequel to the second, I winged it a lot. The stolen-child book that I’m working on now is totally seat-of-the-pants… including much of the story line itself. I know my characters, and I know generally where I want them to end up, but how I get there? Total mystery, until I start writing a scene or a chapter and my subconscious clues me in. It’s a little scary, but it seems to be working so far.

When you plot, what method do you use?

            When I do plot things out in advance, the only real method I have is to keep asking myself two questions: “Why?” and “Then what?” I write while my husband is at work and my boys are at school, so I have the house to myself and I can prowl around muttering out loud. It’s amazing how much quality thinking I can get done while sweeping floors, washing dishes and folding laundry, if the ideas just won’t come while I’m sitting at my laptop.

Great advice for other fiction writers. Do you ever write a detailed list of your character’s habits, likes, dislikes and family members?

            I do some of that, sure. It’s useful to know the big things that shape a character, and family members can provide fodder for plot events or additional stories beyond the one I happen to be working on at the time. An example: in my second book—the first of a historical mystery series set in Chicago just after the Great Fire of 1871—the major female character, Rivka, has a brother who left home to fight in the Civil War. He doesn’t appear in the book, and they never found out what happened to him. For the second book in the series, I have him turn up on Rivka’s doorstep with a wife and stepson, after about a decade’s absence, and with a lot of explaining to do.
            Little stuff about a character can be fun for the author, whether those details make it into the book or not. Things like a character’s favorite song, if they have a weakness for chocolate or they love swanky shoes, or they’re pack rats and live buried in clutter, are touchstones for me in understanding how they see the world.

What do you think today’s readers want and how does it differ from readers of the past?

            I think the biggest difference between then and now is the speed with which things have to happen in a story. If you look at the great Victorian novels, the authors linger over descriptions and motivations in a way few books do now. Modern-day readers want in on the action, and they want it right away. This same desire for immediacy and intensity, though, is great for those of us who like to go deep into our characters’ psyches when we write and show the story unfolding from distinct points of view. There’s less of the omniscient, “camera eye” kind of writing nowadays—the kind of thing Agatha Christie used to do, where you’d be inside every character’s head at once in a less vivid way, instead of adopting a particular strong point of view for an entire scene, chapter or book.

My thoughts exactly. I find it hard to read books that were written a few decades ago because there seems to be so much fat to wade through, and I just want to get to the meat. What book do you want to feature in this post?

            My debut suspense novel, NO LESS IN BLOOD, is the only one published thus far (though my historicals are out with an agent and are being shopped around in New York, so hopefully that will change soon!).

In 1893, 17-year old mining heiress Mary Anne Schlegel flees her small town in upper Minnesota for an independent life in the big city of Chicago, and vanishes. The discovery of her fate more than a century later upends the life of Rachel Connolly, an adoptee desperately seeking her roots. Rachel’s search for her birth mother leads her deep into a shrouded family past and threatens to uncover a secret kept for three generations… a secret one of her newfound kin just might be willing to kill for.

Did you self-publish or query and hope a publisher would accept your work?

            I queried agents for a good couple of years about NO LESS IN BLOOD. They all liked the writing, but weren’t clear about why they didn’t want the book. So I persevered, and finally one agent told me what she saw as a flaw in the manuscript—that Rachel, my main present-day character, wasn’t as vividly drawn as everyone else. I re-read my book, decided she was right and reworked Rachel, then re-submitted, this time to small presses where I thought a new author might have a better shot.

How did that work out for you?

            Five Star/Cengage loved the book and took it. I had the impression from several agents that the dual timeline might also be a problem in selling it to larger publishers, because my book was harder to pigeonhole from a sales point of view. From readers’ comments I’ve gotten, though, they really like the interwoven stories from past and present. So the “problem” from a marketing standpoint has turned out to be a strength.

Agents don’t know everything, but one thing I have learned is that publishers do not accept work unless it is really good, so I congratulate you. What do you do to promote your writing?

            I’m involved with two organizations for mystery writers, Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime, that offer opportunities for networking and promotion at book fests, conventions and such. I’ve also reached out to local libraries in the Chicagoland area and have done a few readings, which are great fun. In the virtual world, I’m part of an online marketing group whose members met through LinkedIn, and we promote each other’s work via blurbs posted on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google Plus, Pinterest and so on. I just attended a marketing seminar on how to use social media for promotion more effectively, and I learned a lot that I plan to put into practice over the next several months—my marketing group notwithstanding, I know I’m not using my social media platform as well as I should be! Blog interviews like this one are new to me, but a terrific opportunity for which I’m very grateful to my fellow writers. In addition to this one, I recently did an interview at ECS Universe, Toi Thomas’ blog (http://ecsuniverse.blogspot.com/). A great site, very entertaining. That was back in January—the week of the 23rd, I think.

What advice do you have for your fellow writers/authors?

Someone once said, “Writers write because we have to.” I think that’s true; when a story gets ahold of you, it won’t let go until you’ve written it. And once you’ve written it, you want readers.  So my advice is, never give up. There are plenty of obstacles to publishing success, however you happen to define it, in this business—but if you keep working, and keep honing your craft, and keep your eyes open for opportunities to figure out how to get your writing noticed amid the crowd, eventually you’ll get there. Also, learn to love the work. Whether the writing part or the promotion part, it never stops—so we might as well enjoy it.

Again, great advice for other authors. Tell us about your next project.

            I’m about a third of the way through my latest novel, tentatively titled THIS DARK AND TROUBLED TIME. The main character is Claire James, a college student who discovers that the woman who raised her isn’t her mother. In a moment of despondency over her own lost baby, Rita stole Claire as a newborn and has spent the past nineteen years moving with her from place to place, always a step ahead of those she fears will find them and take Claire away. Meanwhile, the parents Claire left behind never fully recovered from her loss—and their seventeen year-old son, Danny, has grown up believing himself a mere replacement for the sister he never knew. The story ranges from present to past and back, exploring the effect of loss and the meaning of love as well as the impact on two families’ lives when the truth comes to light.

Why should we buy your book?

            NO LESS IN BLOOD is a fast-moving suspense novel, a unique blend of contemporary and historical mystery that draws you in and keeps you there until the final page. A review quote from mystery author Carl Brookins says it best: “The novel is one of searching.  Police are searching for a killer. The killer is searching for his daughter. And a lonely adopted woman, with little to go on, searches first for her birth mother, and then for family, possibly lost forever, in the unconcerned mists of a previous century.  The solution to the several mysteries will determine who lives and who dies… In the end, the novel is about relationships, good and bad, and it speaks in universal terms to anyone open to others.”


D.M. Pirrone is my nom de plume; as Diane Piron-Gelman (the real me), I’m a freelance writer and editor with nearly twenty years’ experience in publishing. A history buff and avid mystery reader, I’m also an adoptee, with personal experience of the desire to find one’s roots. Aside from brief sojourns to Berkley, CA (for drama school) and the British Isles (junior year abroad), I’ve lived in Chicago for the past 23 years—mostly on the Northwest Side, with my husband Steve and our two sons, David and Isaac. Chicago history remains a source of endless fascination for me, as do time periods like the Civil War/Reconstruction, Tudor-era England, the WW II era and just about anything to do with Ireland. In addition to writing, I’m also an actress, and spent 15 years doing stage productions in the Chicago area before having children and starting my freelance editing business, Word Nerd Inc. I’ve just launched a new career as an audiobook narrator, which for me is a fun acting job. In the end, whether onstage or on the page, for me it’s all about the words.

Well you’ve sold it to me. I’m going to go out and buy the book, just from conducting the interview.Here’s where readers can find out more about you and your work:

Author website: http://www.dmpirrone.net
Editing/audiobooks: http://www.wordnrd.com