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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Interview With Author of The Mistaken, Nancy S. Thompson


Welcome to this stop on Nancy S. Thompson's blog tour for her debut novel, The Mistaken!

I am thrilled to have Nancy here today.  If you haven't already seen her new book around the blogosphere, just know that it is an incredible, pulse-pounding read!  Here's the short synopsis:


Obsessed with revenge following the violent death of his pregnant wife, Tyler Karras pledges the woman responsible to sex-traffickers in San Francisco’s Russian Mafia.  In exchange, they’ll finally let his brother, Nick, leave the business for good—with his debt wiped clean and his heart still beating.  But when Tyler mistakenly targets the wrong woman, he’s forced to protect her from the very enemy he's unleashed, and the Russians are holding Nick as leverage to force Ty to complete their deal.  Caught in a no-win situation, Ty must find a way to save himself, his brother, and the woman, but with the Russian Mafia, even two out of three makes for very long odds.  

I've invited Nancy here today to answer some questions about her new book, so here goes:


Thanks for having me aboard, Lisa!  Let’s dive right into your questions.

What prompted you to write The Mistaken?
It was new song on my iPod—30 Seconds To Mars’ Hurricane—that prompted me.  I was struck by the lyrics:  “Tell me, would you kill to save a life?  Would you kill to prove you’re right?”  It made me wonder what would drive a man, especially a good man, toward violence, to do something completely against his character.  And from there, The Mistaken was borne.

Where did the idea for this book come from?
That song planted a seed I just couldn’t seem to let go.  I truly don’t know what made me decide to write at all, let alone an entire novel.  It was like I was possessed—truly compelled.  The whole time I was writing, it felt like someone was standing over my shoulder, whispering in my ear, telling me exactly what to write.  It took me about three months total to get the first complete draft written.  Then another eighteen months to revise and polish it.

Your main characters go through a lot in this novel.  Why put them through such hell?
Good question!  The one comment I seem to get from everyone who reads it is, “Just when I think they’ve been through enough, you do something even worse to them.”  That makes me laugh.  But as far as why, I guess it’s because of where the male protagonist starts out.  Sure, he’s a great guy, very nice, kind of square.  But he’s also rather judgmental.  He believes he’s always right just because he follows the letter of the law.  He thinks everyone else should be held to the same standard, that there’s never a reason to bend the rules.  He accepts no excuses.  So perhaps everything he goes through is a lesson that life is not all black and white, that every situation, and every person’s reaction to it, is based on their own life experience.  He learns that there are consequences to not listening to others and not taking their side and perspective into consideration. 

Where did you get the idea to incorporate the Russian mafia into this book?
Well, this hits a bit close to home, actually.  Twenty years ago, I had a friend of Russian descent.  Her family lived in the Outer Richmond District in San Francisco, a predominantly Russian neighborhood, and where part of my book is set.  My friend was getting married and invited me to her bachelorette party being held at a suites-style hotel where she unwisely partook in some of the evening’s “entertainment.”  I guess her betrothed heard some rumors afterwards because during their wedding reception, he and a couple of his large “friends” cornered me in the ladies’ room and encouraged me to tell them what I knew.  I played dumb, of course, which they completely saw through.  And after some unnerving threats, they left me with a warning.  Later, I found out they were all connected to the Russian Mafia.  So yeah, pretty darn scary in retrospect.  

What was the toughest part on your road to publication?
I think every part is tough, especially when you’re a novice like I was.  But if I had to pick, I’d say querying is the most difficult, from writing the darn query itself, to researching the agents, to sending them out, and bouncing back from the inevitable rejection.  It’s so true what they say:  writers must develop very thick skin to survive.

What advice would you give to writers who are just starting out on their road to publication?
I have so much advice, it wouldn’t fit here in one post, but if I had to sum it all up, it’d be this:  Write what you love.  Get the story down first before worrying about how to revise it.  Get yourself a team of die-hard critique partners, the more brutal the better.  Listen to them, but follow your heart.  And lastly, but most importantly, never, ever quit.  I think it was here on this blog where I first read “The biggest difference between the published writer and the unpublished one is perseverance.”  And damn if that ain’t the truth!

Visit Nancy’s blog, follow, and leave a comment during her book tour for a chance to win an ARC of The Mistaken.  Plus, 5 runner-up winners will each receive an ebook. 

You can also find her on her publisher’s website, Goodreads, Twitter, and Facebook




You can buy it here:




You can find her at on the remainder of her blog tour at all of these places:

The Mistaken Blog tour:
10/23:  Julie Musil
10/25:  Matthew MacNish
10/26:  LG Smith
10/27: Aimee Jodoin
10/30:  Lisa Regan
10/31:  Jennifer Hillier
11/1:    Angela Peart & Livia Peterson
11/19:  Arlee Bird

And here is what other authors are saying about this incredible book:


Early praise for The Mistaken:
“A deliciously slow burn that builds to a ferocious crescendo, Nancy S. Thompson's THE MISTAKEN kept me riveted until the very last page. Tyler Karras is a complex and flawed protagonist, and his redemptive journey makes him the perfect anti-hero. This psychological suspense is a standout, and I can't wait for Thompson's next book.”
~ Jennifer Hillier, author of CREEP and FREAK

“Nancy S. Thompson's debut novel, The Mistaken, is a first-rate thriller full of hair-raising twists and turns.  Pursued by the police and the Russian mafia in San Francisco, brothers Tyler and Nick Karras are fascinating, fully-drawn, desperate characters.  The action is non-stop.  Thompson's taut, intriguing tale of revenge, mistaken identity, kidnapping and murder will keep you enthralled and entertained.” 
~Kevin O’BrienNew York Times Bestselling Author of DISTURBED and TERRIFIED

“Fast-paced and emotionally gripping - once the ride begins, you won't stop reading until it ends."  ~Alex J. Cavanaugh, author of CASSAFIRE and CASSASTAR


Friday, October 26, 2012

Claire's Public Service Announcement

WARNING:  DISTURBING POST AHEAD!

Below you'll see a video that rocked the city of Philadelphia over the summer.  It is distressing and disturbing footage of a grown man trying to abduct a 10 year old girl on a city street in broad daylight.  Luckily, this girl was brave enough to put up such a fight that the abductor ultimately decided it was not worth it and he fled.  He was later caught.




Last week, in my own neighborhood, mere blocks from my home there was an abduction attempt of an 8 year old girl (or so Fox News has reported).  Again, luckily for that young girl and her family, she got away.  That same perpetrator is reported to have been attempting to lure other children at or near at least two of our local schools. I understand this person was caught but was not charged and is thus able to continue to troll our streets for children.

Just over the bridge in New Jersey this past week, 12 year old Autumn Pasquale went for a bike ride and never returned home.  She was lured into a home by two teenage boys and killed.

On the other side of the country, in Colorado on or about October 5th, 10 year old Jessica Ridgeway was abducted on her way to school, savagely killed and dismembered.  Again, by a teenage boy.

If you do not think that these things happen in your neighborhood or on your street or in your quiet, idyllic community, I'm here to tell you that they happen everywhere and they can happen anywhere at any time.

These few cases I've mentioned above?  Tip of the iceberg.

If you've followed my blog for any length of time, you know that this subject matter has been an obsession of mine ever since Jacob Wetterling and Jaycee Lee Dugard went missing when I was a child.  My first novel, Finding Claire Fletcher is about a girl who was abducted by a sick psychopath and spent 10 years in captivity.  Because it is fiction, I was able to return her to her family.  There have been real life cases of this--you'll recognize the names Jaycee Lee Dugard, Shawn Hornbeck and Elizabeth Smart.  But it usually doesn't end like that.

I've been sick to my stomach the last few weeks, thinking of these kids and their families.  I would ask that you say a prayer for them and for all children and families who have fallen victim to sexual predators and murderers.

I would also ask that you spend some time talking to your own kids, if you have them and they are still minors, about how best to protect themselves.  Have the Stranger Danger, Good Secret/Bad Secret, Good Touch/Bad Touch talks with them.  Enroll them in a self-defense course or martial arts.  Not sure how to start these conversations?  Here is one of the very best resources available, which I have referenced myself in starting these kinds of dialogues with my own daughter:

The Jacob Wetterling Resource Center

May all of our children stay safe and unharmed!


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Happy Release Day, Nancy S. Thompson!


I'm way excited today!  Today is the release of The Mistaken which is Nancy S. Thompson's first novel.  As you probably know by now, Nancy is my bestie and my writing soul mate.  (She is also kind, warm and hilariously funny.  She's always there with supportive words when I'm a mess--she's an all round wonderful person and I'm thrilled that her dream is finally coming true!)

HAPPY RELEASE DAY, NANCY!

I feel about as excited about this release as I do about my own.  I had the pleasure and privilege of being along the journey with Nancy from her very early drafts to the mind-blowing finished product of The Mistaken.  I've seen how hard she's worked and toiled to make this book as amazing as it is and to find a home for it.  This is a great day!


Nancy will be back here for an interview on October 30th but I'd encourage you to hop around in the coming weeks and visit her on her blog tour.  You can find her at all of these places:

The Mistaken Blog tour:
10/23:  Julie Musil
10/25:  Matthew MacNish
10/26:  LG Smith
10/27: Aimee Jodoin
10/30:  Lisa Regan
11/19:  Arlee Bird

To whet your appetite until then, here is a short synopsis:


Obsessed with revenge following the violent death of his pregnant wife, Tyler Karras pledges the woman responsible to sex-traffickers in San Francisco’s Russian Mafia.  In exchange, they’ll finally let his brother, Nick, leave the business for good—with his debt wiped clean and his heart still beating.  But when Tyler mistakenly targets the wrong woman, he’s forced to protect her from the very enemy he's unleashed, and the Russians are holding Nick as leverage to force Ty to complete their deal.  Caught in a no-win situation, Ty must find a way to save himself, his brother, and the woman, but with the Russian Mafia, even two out of three makes for very long odds.    


And here is what other authors are saying about this incredible book:


Early praise for The Mistaken:
“A deliciously slow burn that builds to a ferocious crescendo, Nancy S. Thompson's THE MISTAKEN kept me riveted until the very last page. Tyler Karras is a complex and flawed protagonist, and his redemptive journey makes him the perfect anti-hero. This psychological suspense is a standout, and I can't wait for Thompson's next book.”
~ Jennifer Hillier, author of CREEP and FREAK

“Nancy S. Thompson's debut novel, The Mistaken, is a first-rate thriller full of hair-raising twists and turns.  Pursued by the police and the Russian mafia in San Francisco, brothers Tyler and Nick Karras are fascinating, fully-drawn, desperate characters.  The action is non-stop.  Thompson's taut, intriguing tale of revenge, mistaken identity, kidnapping and murder will keep you enthralled and entertained.” 
~Kevin O’Brien, New York Times Bestselling Author of DISTURBED and TERRIFIED

“Fast-paced and emotionally gripping - once the ride begins, you won't stop reading until it ends."  ~Alex J. Cavanaugh, author of CASSAFIRE and CASSASTAR

You can buy it here:




Monday, October 15, 2012

The Bouchercon Post

So last weekend (October 4-7) I attended my very first writers' conference, The Anthony Boucher World Mystery Writers Convention or simply, Bouchercon.  It was held in Cleveland and open to both writers and readers of the mystery/suspense/thriller genre.

It was fabulous.

As most of you know, my best friend and writing soulmate is Nancy S. Thompson (whose amazing book, The Mistaken comes out on 10/18/12).  Her Bouchercon post is here and it's got some great pics!  As most of you know, Nancy and I "met" online, have been besties for 2 years but never met in person.  So my real reason for attending Bouchercon was to meet my best friend in person for the first time.  As Nancy promised, it was epic!

You'll have to forgive me.  I tried to make this post short but it just ain't happening.  So here are some highlights!

1.  Meeting Nancy S. Thompson!

There we are, moments after meeting in person for the first time!

2.  Meeting the lovely and brilliant Jennifer Hillier in person.  If you haven't read her books, Creep and Freak, you're definitely missing out.  Get them now.  Creep was great.  Freak was even better.  As I told Jennifer when I saw her there, Freak is a walk-off.

Me, Nancy and Jennifer outside the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame on Thursday night

3. Meeting two of my idols, Karin Slaughter and John Connolly.  So you know those people who get all shaky and incoherent when they meet their celebrity idol?  Yeah, that's me.  Apparently.  John Connolly was the toastmaster and on Saturday afternoon, Karin Slaughter was slated to interview him.  I had actually run into John Connolly in the hall hours before the toastmaster interview and told him how great I thought he was which went pretty well.  Later, when it was time for the interview, I was waiting for Jennifer in the ballroom when Karin Slaughter walked up and stood right beside my chair.  Then John Connolly appeared and they started talking.  Before I passed out from being that close to the creators of so much writing awesomeness, I found Jennifer who encouraged me to go over and talk to them.  Unfortunately for me, I have no idea what I said.  There was a lot of babbling and gushing and I'm pretty sure by the time I left, Karin Slaughter was looking at me in horror.  I probably came off as one of those people who should be wearing a sandwich board that says: MENTALLY UNSTABLE.  If I could have that moment back to do over again, I'd walk up, shake both their hands, say quite simply, "I'm a long time fan of both your work.  My first novel comes out this year and you've both been huge inspirations to me.  Can I get a picture with you both?"  Yeah, that totally didn't happen.  I was an idiot.  I'd like to say for the record that I was simply overwhelmed by meeting Karin Slaughter in person (and John Connolly who I've long admired).  I've been reading her books as long as she's been writing.  She's a big influence on me--what I aspire to as a writer.  So it was overwhelming.  She was quite nice though in spite of me making a total fool of myself.  So yeah, would like a do-over on that one but regardless, it was a huge thrill.  Here's the pic.

Can you tell I'm about to pass out?

4.  Meeting Mark Pryor of DA Confidential and having dinner with him and several other lovely people! As you know from my last post, Mark's first book came out on October 9, 2012.  As I said in my last post, he is ridiculously charming.  He's a prosecutor from Texas with a British accent who writes books.  That alone makes him pretty darn interesting.  But WOW did he have great stories.  And the British accent doesn't exactly hurt.  Pretty much everyone around him at any given time is rapt with attention, listening to his tales.





5.  Meeting two of my other favorite writers, Meg Gardiner and Linwood Barclay.  I really enjoyed hearing them speak on the panels I saw them on and they were both exceptionally nice.  I managed to keep my cool with them at least!

Me with Meg Gardiner

Me with Linwood Barclay

6.  Meeting a group of ladies from my own neighborhood!  They are involved in book clubs and libraries in my area and they were so kind and funny.

7.  Getting a giant bag of free books.



8.  Speaking on a new author panel along with Nancy and Mark (*pauses to do happy dance, looks around to make sure no one saw it, returns to computer*).  Nancy and I had no idea we actually  had to speak but sure enough, we had to stand at a podium and talk about our books for exactly 2 minutes and not one second more.  Nancy and I were in great company and the legendary Val McDermid moderated our panel which was pretty awesome.  She is hilarious.  I have no recollection whatsoever what I actually said while I was up there but I'm assured it was good.  I was in pretty damn great company so pretty much I was just thrilled to be there at all.

There we are with our new author panel placards!

9.  Generally being surrounded by hundreds of people whose minds work a lot like mine, who have the same interests as me and who just get it.  Everyone I met was wonderfully kind and funny and I learned a lot.

10.  Taking a nap when I got tired.  (No one knocking on the door or standing beside the bed asking when I would be getting up.  No minor emergencies that only Mom could possibly manage.  Just me and a dark room and a big old comfy bed.)  I think it was Saturday afternoon I suddenly became very sleepy and Nancy and Jennifer said, "Go take a nap."  And I did.  Well sort of.  I was so excited about actually being able to take a nap, that I couldn't sleep.  Moms the world over will know exactly what I'm talking about.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Interview with Mark Pryor, Author of The Bookseller

I had the pleasure of meeting Mark Pryor in person over the weekend at Bouchercon (a Bouchercon post is in the works, will probably be up next week).  He is ridiculously charming--he is very charismatic--and his debut novel, The Bookseller came out yesterday!  It is getting rave reviews so please stick around for the purchase links below!



Max—an elderly Paris bookstall owner—is abducted at gunpoint. His friend, Hugo Marston, head of security at the US embassy, looks on helplessly, powerless to do anything to stop the kidnapper.
Marston launches a search, enlisting the help of semiretired CIA agent Tom Green. Their investigation reveals that Max was a Holocaust survivor and later became a Nazi hunter. Is his disappearance somehow tied to his grim history, or even to the mysterious old books he sold? 

On the streets of Paris, tensions are rising as rival drug gangs engage in violent turf wars. Before long, other booksellers start to disappear, their bodies found floating in the Seine. Though the police are not interested in his opinion, Marston is convinced the hostilities have something to do with the murders of these bouquinistes. 

Then he himself becomes a target of the unknown assassins.

With Tom by his side, Marston finally puts the pieces of the puzzle together, connecting the past with the present and leading the two men, quite literally, to the enemy's lair. 

Just as the killer intended.


If you're not aware, Mark blogs over at DA Confidential.  Here's his bio:


Mark Pryor is a former newspaper reporter from England, now an assistant district attorney with the Travis County District Attorney's Office, in Austin, Texas. He is the creator of the true-crime blog D.A. Confidential. He has appeared on CBS News's 48 Hours and Discovery Channel's Discovery ID: Cold Blood. THE BOOKSELLER is his first mystery novel.






Mark was gracious enough to grant me an interview so here goes!


1. What was your inspiration for writing The Bookseller?

As it happens, and very appropriately, I was in Paris with my wife for a brief vacation.  We love the city and a few days there is guaranteed to set my mind wandering.  I bought a notebook at a little store and just started jotting down ideas.  Planning out a book while sitting in a cafĂ© in Paris, well, that's my idea of heaven.

I've always wanted to write a series, and I had the idea of creating one where the different facets of Paris play a role.  For The Bookseller it was the bouquinistes by the River Seine.  For the next one it's the beautiful, and huge, cemeteries.  As for Hugo Marston, my hero, he's an amalgam of people I've known or met, or would like to be.  I knew that I wanted to move away from the trend towards MCs battling demons, alcohol, drugs, relationships.  Not that there's anything wrong with that, I just didn't think I had anything to offer in that vein.  And I do like the idea of a return to more a traditional MC, the genuinely nice guy with a handy set of talents.


2. You’re a prosecutor.  In my experience, lawyers—especially prosecutors—work a lot of hours.  How do you balance it all?  Your family, your job and writing?  How do you find time to write?

You know, I'm very lucky because I don't work that many hours.  Or maybe I'm very lazy?!  No, I have always been able to do my job within the work week, and unless I have a trial then I am home by six and never work weekends.  I usually write at the library close to home, a couple of hours a day on weekends.  My family has been amazing, especially my wife of course, so supportive and understanding and they help me find time.   I am also lucky in that when I sit down to write I can do so pretty quickly.  I can knock out two thousand words in a couple of hours, and don't need to do a whole lot of rewriting.


3. Can you tell us a little about your writing process?

Sure.  I'm not an outliner, if that's what you're wondering!  I do keep a journal for each book in which I jot down ideas, either about the plot or characters.  But the journal evolves with the book and a lot of what goes in there doesn't make it to the page.  So I don't come up with every idea up front, but I do have to write them down when they pop into my mind else I'll forget them.  As for the development of the story, well, as I mentioned before I've been choosing an aspect of Paris to explore for the Hugo Marston series and with The Bookseller I decided on the bouquinistes, having poor old Max kidnapped.  Then I had to answer the question Why?  The same with the next book in the series, I have to know the solution , to know where I'm headed, when I start to write.  What I don't always know is exactly how to get there!   But that's the fun part, because as I stumble towards the solution  I also work to camouflage it, covering it up with action and conflict, all the while dropping clues for the reader.


4. How long did it take you to find an agent? How many rejections?

How high can you count?  The Bookseller is the third novel for which I sought an agent.  The first two never made it, so dozens and dozens of rejections for those.  The Bookseller got more interest from agents early on, but I'd say I got ten or fifteen outright rejections.  From first query to signing with Ann Collette was pretty quick though, about six months.  Several other agents had the full manuscript when she offered to represent me and I accepted pretty quickly.  I really wanted to work with someone who was enthusiastic and I got very lucky with Ann, she's amazing.

5. How long were you on submissions?

About a year.  Ann is a very hands-on agent in terms of editing, so we did several months of back and forth, and a little more after some early rejections from big publishers.  That's a nerve-wracking process, too, we got so close but in the end the major houses passed.  Funnily enough, I got two offers on the same day, though when Ann told me Seventh Street wanted three books, well, I jumped at that as you can imagine.  And they have been fantastic to work with, as a new imprint of an existing publisher they have the enthusiasm of a beginner but the machinery of an existing house.

6. What advice would you give to writers who are just beginning their journey to publication?

I'd say two things.  First, work on your writing, your story.  As I mentioned, The Bookseller was my third completed novel and is head and shoulders above the first two.  Yet I peddled the first two, not realizing they weren't good enough.  So if you're not having luck the traditional route, it may just be you're not there yet.  That's a hard thing for people to grasp, to accept, and I know because clearly I didn't.  Yes, I'm afraid I'm one of those people who believe that good writing will get you there, eventually.  I'm sure there are exceptions but I do think it's true.

Which brings me to:  Stick with it. Going the traditional route, via an agent, is a punishing, slow, brutal process and many times over the years I thought I'd never make it.  It can also be demoralizing, all those rejections from agents and then editors.  But getting that one call from an agent, the nod from one publisher. . . those things are utterly priceless.  For me, going the traditional route is not just about getting the marketing, distribution, even the editing.  It also carries with it a certain validation I knew I wouldn't get from self-publishing.  My name is on the cover of a book because someone else put it there, not because I did.  I see so many people getting rejected and then leaping into self-publishing and I hate that their books don't really see the light of day, when I see that initial excitement turns to frustration when they don't sell more than a few copies.

Along the same lines, I'd also throw my backing behind small, indie publishers.  I shot for the big guys, yes, but the support (in terms of marketing) I've gotten from my publisher has been amazing.  And, I'm guessing, more than I would have gotten from one of the big six, especially as a new author.  I may be wrong about that but suffice it to say I've been very lucky.

                                                    * *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *


I've pre-ordered the book for my Kindle.  I hope you guys will check it out too!

Amazon.

B&N.

Indiebound.