Thursday, June 27, 2013

Interview With Author Maggie Bishop; her writing and her new novel One Shot Too Many

SDG: Welcome, Maggie. Would you like to tell us a little about yourself?

MB: Certainly. I hike, ski, garden, swim, explore and write in the mountains of North Carolina where I settled in 1993 with my husband and cat. Every time we travel, we seek out other mountains but none are as exciting as the ancient Appalachians. When asked, "What do you do?", my answer is, "Entertain with word pictures."

SDG: That's a great answer! What inspired you to write this mystery series?

MB: I started with romance and turned to murder. My second novel had a cold case mystery and I became hooked on CSI and TV. Jemma chase is the main character in Murder at Blue Falls (1st in the Appalachian Adventure Mystery Series) and I couldn't let her go. My publisher liked the idea of a mystery series and I wanted to keep the same two main characters. Detective Tucker came to me when I was vacationing at the beach with my parents. While up early one morning and sitting on the balcony overlooking the ocean, a small deer walked by in the dune grass. Shortly, a bob cat followed. Detective Tucker flowed through my fingers and onto the page at that moment. My mind's eye saw him clearly but his motivations only come out when I'm actually writing.

SDG: What a wonderful story. What was your approach to writing it (did it just flow or did you use an outline or other preparatory method)?

MB: Once, I outlined a book and became bored with it because I already knew the ending. Lesson learned-my writing has to entertain me during the process so I'm 90% pantser (write by the seat of my pants). Most of the time, I don't know who committed the crime until the last third of the book, which means more revisions.

SDG: I know exactly what you mean. How long did it take to write the complete novel from first draft to edited final?

MB: It usually takes me a year to complete a novel. The first draft is mainly action and dialogue and is written while sitting on my sofa putting ink on paper. I work in spurts, which is not the most efficient method of writing. The much revised second draft comes when I keyboard it to my computer.

SDG: Can you tell us a little about your series and if you have had book signings or readings?

MB: The publishing industry is changing and I don't do as many book signings and readings as I did five years ago. Most of my "appearances" now are on the web.

The Start: In Murder at Blue Falls, when her horse finds a body, CSI wannabe Jemma starts to investigate, Detective Tucker comes in and it twists and turns from there.

And Then: Since pay is low in the mountains, Jemma has more than one job and is also a carpenter. In Perfect for Framing, trouble's a-brewing in the Property Owners Association where greed and a lust for power lead to murder in a clash of personal versus public needs.

Now: The photography group meets at Blue Falls Guest Ranch and soon there is One Shot Too Many which features Detective Tucker with yesterday's regret, leading to today's deadly fix.

SDG: What an interesting concept for a series! Is your family supportive of your writing and what do they think about your writing career?

MB: My husband doesn't read fiction (gasp!) but supports me in every endeavor. My parents are readers-so much so they became recurring minor characters in my novels.

SDG: That must be fun! Do you have any advice or words or wisdom for novice writers?

MB: Turn off the internal critic and write one scene. Don't reread it. Then write another scene. Keep doing that until you realize you are having fun creating.

SDG: Excellent advice. What are you working on now? Is it in the same genre?

MB: The working title of my next mystery in the Appalachia Adventure series is "Drilled by the Chef". There's a murder at a cook-off at Blue Falls Dude Ranch and Jemma Chase's new TomBoy carpentry tools make her a strong suspect.

SDG: Uh-oh! Can't wait to see how she gets out of that one. What is the best time for you to write and does it ever interfere with your day job, if you have one? Also, how long on average do you write each day?

MB: I wish I had a typical writing day. I write in spurts of two months. Way in advance, I begin thinking about my characters and plot. The setting is in the mountains of North Carolina which is perfect with the hollars and high peaks, the visitor attractions and sports, and the unpredictability of the weather. I liken it to the pressure built up behind a mountain damn-my head keeps filling up with a sense of what the characters will be going through. No details, just the anticipation of emotions and action. Once I have the emotional space and projects in the real world put off, I open the flood gates and write. I awake and begin writing long hand the next scene between fixing my, and my husband's, breakfast and lunch, feeding the birds and tending to the cat. Once my husband is off to work, I continue writing either long hand or at the computer.

After a few hours, I do a half hour on the elliptical machine, have lunch and return to writing. While exercising, my mind is on the story. I love it. This is the grand, expanding part of the whole experience of creating these people and events. The first two hours in the morning (5-7) are spent on the internet at various sites authors need to keep up with in order to market books. The creative work on my manuscript is from 9 to noon. Sometimes I'll work in the afternoon for a couple of hours. My brain shuts down at 5, so it's crucial that I write in the morning. I manage to arrange writing days 3 to 4 times a week.

SDG: That sounds like a schedule that works very well for you. Is writing, to you, a lonely occupation?

MB: Yes, writing is a solitary endeavor so I started High Country Writers in 1995 and now have an extensive group of writer friends throughout the North Carolina-Tennessee section of the Appalachians.

SDG: Wow! That's terrific and a great way to get feedback and build friendships. What is your website and where can readers purchase your books?


Amazon listing for all my books:
My website is:
Blog (shared with four other writers) is:

SDG: Do you have anything else you'd like to say?

MB: Readers ask, "Why do you use real people as minor characters?" I live in the South where uniqueness is more than tolerated, it's encouraged. It helps avoid using stereotypes. Plus it's fun for them and me. You read about them and see them in movies but I live near them, know them, enjoy them. Including myself, so I'm in my books like Alfred Hitchcock is in his movies.

SDG: What are your other social media sites?

MB: Facebook:
"like" my Facebook page at:

SDG: Thank you so much, Maggie, for the interview and I wish you the best of luck with your books.


Saturday, June 22, 2013

Interview with author Monica Garry-Allen talking about her writing, including her latest work, The Makeover.

SDG: Great to have you as a guest, Monica. How about a little background about yourself?
MGA: Hi, my name is Monica Garry-Allen. I'm a writer and lover of all things romantic. I reside in southern Mississippi with my husband. When I'm not listening to the characters in my head and jotting down their adventures, I'm busy working as a Clinical Laboratory Technician. I love to travel, preferably with my husband, so he can do all of the driving. I enjoy time with my family, who are just as silly as I am. I have no children...yet, wish me luck! My hobbies are reading, writing and shopping, though I hate trying on clothing. If I wasn't a writer or a Laboratory Professional, I would probably be a Secret Agent. But that's the beauty of being a writer: you can create you own world and be whoever you want to be. In my imaginary world, I am the Queen and my siblings are my minions.
SDG: Wow. That's a busy life. What inspired you to write this book?
MGA: My co-workers, lol. My co-workers and I are all corky and we say some of the lamest things during our eight hours together at work. Hanging with those ladies every day inspired me to write a series of short stories about nerd girls who love hard!
SDG: That sounds like a lot of fun. What was your approach to writing it (did it just flow or did you use an outline or other preparatory method)?
MGA: I let it flow. I usually write a synopsis of the story, but I rarely stick to it. I let my characters tell the story then I go back and edit it.
SDG: How long did it take to write the complete novel from first draft to edited final?
MGA: About two months on and off. I got distracted a few times during the process.
SDG: That's extremely fast! Can you tell us a little about your book?
MGA: The Makeover is a fun romantic comedy full of love, laughter and lipstick. It follows the life of April Parson and her two best friends as they realize that life outside of college is not as easy as people make it out to be. They thought they left bullies behind when they graduated high school, but they find out that adults can be just as mean. With the help of her best friends, April learns to be strong and stand up for herself. She also finds love and a new pair of high heels during her journey!
SDG: Well, who doesn't love a great pair of heels? Is your family supportive of your writing and what do they think about your writing career?
MGA: My husband and my family are super supportive. My sisters love reading my rough drafts and helping me brainstorm. My hubby is not a big reader, but he loves listening to me tell him what my characters are up to. On my release day for The Makeover, he got me a cake, a card, and made me breakfast in bed.
SDG: Okay, that's the best husband ever! Do you have any advice or words of wisdom for beginner writers?
MGA: Study the craft. Read and write as much as you can. If you can, attend writers workshops and conventions and always surround yourself with positive people. Don't let anyone tell you that you can't do this.
SDG: Excellent advice. What are you working on now? Is it in the same genre?
MGA: I'm working on book two of my Nerd Girls Love Hard series and I'm also working on my Christmas novella. 
SDG: Like I said before, you really are busy. What is the best time for you to write and does it ever interfere with your day job? Also, how long on average do you write each day?
MGA: I usually write in the mornings! I'm an early bird. I wake up, get myself together, fix me a pot of coffee and get to writing. I write for about two-three hours then it's time for me to get ready to clock in at my day job. By the time I come home from work I'm too tired to even think about writing, but that doesn't stop me from dreaming about my characters! 
SDG: Is writing, to you, a lonely occupation?
MGA: It is a very lonely occupation. Though my husband supports my career, he doesn't understand why I enjoy sitting in front o my computer for hours at a time typing away. It amazes him that I would rather work on my story than go outside...into the real world. LOL!
SDG: I feel the same way. What is your website and where can readers purchase your book or books?
My books can be purchased at: and from Amazon at:
You can find me on Twitter @monicagarry
SDG: Thank you so much, Monica, for taking the time for this interview. I look forward to reading all of your stories!