Saturday, November 30, 2013

Welcome Author Madeline Gornell!

Thank you, Beth, for inviting me to your place! I certainly enjoyed meeting you at the San Bernardino Library Author event. I thought I’d talk a little about writing a series versus a standalone novel.

Thank you Madeline, I really enjoyed meeting you as well. But mostly I am intrigued by your book Counsel of Ravens!  Thanks for this insightful guest blog!

First some info about Madeline's novel Counsel of Raves

In the dark of night, murder strikes on Route 66, and once again Hubert James Champion III finds himself having to face realities he’d rather run from. Indeed, within two days, Hugh finds himself embroiled in murder on a national scale, seeking justice for petty-crimes of a local nature—and very close to home, reviving his skills as a psychologist to help people who have become friends. Indeed, his friends need him.

In addition, there are troubling mysteries of the personal kind still tucked away in the recesses of Hugh’s subconscious. He may still be “hiding out” in the desert, but East Coast ties continue to haunt and thwart his building hopes for the future.

Fortunately, he has his ravens to counsel him, and through it all—the Mojave winds continue to blow…

The Series Versus a Standalone Novel

Many mystery authors write series, but for me, it’s been standalones until my latest. So, I’m talking about one little sequel, and that may seem like not such a big deal, but for me, it was huge. I didn’t realize how huge until about the middle of writing Counsel of Ravens. I’ve mentioned on blogs before how certain locations seem to reach out, grab me, tell me there’s a story there. And from that initial spark, my mind moves on to characters, plot, etc. Intertwined in that process—I think—is also a liking for dropping in on characters, not only at a particular spot, but in a particular point in their lives. Then drop out. Move on. Leaving all the “what if” possibilities in the rest of their lives unanswered and left to the reader’s imagination.

Well, writing a sequel with Hugh et al., I’d have to deal with what came next, tie up some lose ends, even kick-start the next chapter of his life. At first, and for quite awhile in the writing of Counsel of Ravens, I didn’t want to do that. Doesn’t make much sense, but it’s true.

It was hard making what I’m calling “second-wave” decisions for Hugh. And with that kind of mindset and difficulty, how could I possibly ever write a series, which was one of my initial goals way-back-when. And now, even with Counsel of Ravens published, I’m still not sure I can actually write a continuing series. Though, somewhere during the storytelling part of my latest I began to enjoy developing Hugh’s future, and his friend’s futures—including his ravens—who moved in this story from being reticent, to butting-in. And I did very much enjoy tying up the loose ends with a secondary, but one of my favorite characters in Reticence of Ravens—Marsha Portson.

Which leads me to the “winding-road-of-writing.” My love of P.D. James’s style, her books, her protagonist, her approach to writing—led me to start off using M.M., wanting to emulate my rock-star author and because I planned on writing a series with a male protagonist—again, just like P.D.

Things have changed for my characters in several ways (indeed, two of my books have female protagonists)—and for me. My writing-career-plans seem to have their own plan—taking me on a winding road somewhere…

A very wise author once told me, “Enjoy the process,” and I say, “Hear! Hear! I sure better.” So here I am back on the winding road, and what seems to be next for me is writing a thriller sort of/mystery sort of/mainstream fiction sort of/ novel called Rhodes. It’s a standalone—BUT, I’ve given it a secondary title—The Mojavestone, just in case! (I’m rereading (audio) The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins—wonder if that has something to do with my title?)

Beth, thanks so much for inviting me—loved being here!

Your welcome please come back any time!!  Thank you for your guest post and for sharing your wonderful stories! I look forward to reading Counsel of Ravens and the Rhodes!

About Madeline Gornell

Madeline (M.M.) Gornell has five published mystery novels—including PSWA awarding winners Uncle Si’s Secret and Lies of Convenience (also a Hollywood Book Festival honorable Mention), Death of a Perfect Man, and Reticence of Ravens (a finalist for the Eric Hoffer 2011 fiction Prize, the da Vinci Eye for cover art, and the Montaigne Medal for most thought provoking book). Her latest is Counsel of Ravens, her first sequel and a continuation of Hubert Champion’s Mojave saga. She continues to be inspired by historic Route 66, and expects to release in 2014 Rhodes.

Madeline is a lifetime lover of mysteries, and besides reading and writing, she is also a potter with a fondness for stoneware and reduction firing. She lives with her husband and assorted canines in the Mojave High Desert near the internationally revered Route.


Contact and Buy Info

Madeline’s books are available at, Barnes &, and Smashwords, in paper and e-book formats. You can visit her online at her website, or her BLOG  or email her directly at


Monday, November 18, 2013

Welcome Margo Bond Collins!

When Dallas resident Callie Taylor died young, she expected to go to Heaven, or maybe Hell. Instead, when she met her fate early thanks to a creep with a knife and a mommy complex, she went to Alabama. Now she's witnessed another murder, and she's not about to let this one go. She's determined to help solve it before an innocent man goes to prison. And to answer the biggest question of all: why the hell did she wake up dead in Alabama?

When I died, I expected to go to heaven.
Okay. Maybe hell. It’s not like I was perfect or anything. But I was sort of hoping for heaven.
Instead, I went to Alabama.
Yeah. I know. It’s weird.
I died in Dallas, my hometown. I was killed, actually. Murdered. I’ll spare you the gruesome details. I don’t like to remember them myself. Some jerk with a knife--and probably a Bad-Mommy complex. Believe me, if I knew where he was, I’d go haunt his ass.
At any rate, by the time death came, I was ready for it--ready to stop hurting, ready to let go. I didn’t even fight it.
And then I woke up dead in Alabama. Talk about pissed off.
You know, even reincarnation would have been fine with me--I could have started over, clean slate and all that. Human, cow, bug. Whatever. But no. I ended up haunting someplace I’d never even been.
That’s not the way it’s supposed to work, right? Ghosts are supposed to be the tortured spirits of those who cannot let go of their earthly existence. If they could be convinced to follow the light, they’d leave behind said earthly existence and quit scaring the bejesus out of the poor folks who run across them. That’s what all those “ghost hunter” shows on television tell us.
Let me tell you something. The living don’t know jack about the dead.
Not this dead chick, anyway.


Interview with Margo Bond Collins
Q:Welcome Margo, first I'd like thank you for stopping by, it's nice to meet you. Please tell us about yourself.
A: In my other life, I’m a college professor; I teach English courses online. I live in Texas with my husband and our daughter and a number of thoroughly silly animals. Waking Up Dead is my first published novel. My second novel, Legally Undead, is an urban fantasy forthcoming in 2014 from World Weaver Press. I got the offers to publish the two novels in the same month. That was officially the best month of my life!

Q: Congratulations! That definitely qualifies as a good month.  Tell us about Waking Up Dead.

A: In Waking Up Dead, when Dallas resident Callie Taylor died young, she expected to go to Heaven, or maybe Hell. Instead, she met her fate early thanks to a creep with a knife and a mommy complex. Now she's witnessed another murder, and she's not about to let this one go. She's determined to help solve it before an innocent man goes to prison. And to answer the biggest question of all: why the hell did she wake up in Alabama?

Q: Sounds like a fun read! What inspired you to write Waking up Dead?

A: I wrote Waking Up Dead when I lived in Alabama for a few years. I remember driving to work one morning and seeing just a wisp of fog move across the statue in the middle of the town square. The statue was of some Civil War figure, and thought that it looked oddly ghostly. In between teaching classes that day, I started writing Callie’s story.

Q:I agree creepy statues can be very inspirational! So on to the fun questions, If you could meet three authors, which authors would you choose?

A: I’m worried I would go all star-struck and not be able to say anything coherent! But assuming I could keep my wits about me, I would like to meet (in no particular order): Neil Gaiman, because he’s so bloody brilliant; Charles Stross, whose sense of the absurd always delights me; and Anne Aguirre, because she’s so beautifully outspoken about what it means to be a woman who writes science fiction.

Q: Gaiman is one of my favorites too!  He doesn't know it yet, but he plans on taking me to dinner and telling me bedtime stories ;) but that is not what we are here to talk about is it. So, what are you currently working on?

A: Piles of projects! I’m currently doing a round of edits to Legally Undead, the first of the Vampirarchy urban fantasy series coming out from World Weaver Press in 2014. I’m working on the sequels to Waking Up Dead and Legally Undead. I’m working on a contemporary romance novel. I’m editing a number of academic projects, too—mostly collections of essays about science fiction and fantasy televisions series like Farscape, The Vampire Diaries, and Supernatural.

Q:Whew, more power to you! A busy writer is a happy writer. What was the most challenging part about writing Waking up Dead?

A: Making sure the mystery made sense! About halfway through I figured out that I was going to need to solve the mystery before the characters did! So at that point I decided where I was headed, generally—but the characters took me where I needed to go.

Q: When did you know you wanted to become an author?
A:  I’ve always known, for as long as I can remember. The first story I remember actually writing down was basically fan-fiction of The Wizard of Oz. I wrote it in long-hand in a yellow legal pad. I’ve been writing ever since.

Q:Fun stuff. I did a similar thing with Pippy Longstalking when I was a kid. I wanted my own adventure with her, so I wrote myself into the story...two redheads can get into a lot of trouble -- I had some great adventures with Pip.  You mentioned earlier that you were a fast writer -  you said it took you six weeks from start to finish to write Waking Up Dead, I'm interested in what your editing process is like?

A: I edit on the sentence level as I go, changing things around as necessary. But I also tend to write in scenes, and if a scene isn’t working, I will simply put a reminder in brackets—something like this: [FIX THIS SCENE].  Then I move on. So the first editing step is always to do a search for those brackets and do my best to address the issues. Once I’ve done that, I do a read-through for plot coherence. Then I do a final read-through for any other issues.  And then I quit for a while so I can get some distance before I come back to it for a final proofreading session.

Q: Thank you so much for visiting and writing interesting stories. I have one more question for you, and by your level of busyness, I can tell that this will be easy for you to answer -What can we expect from you in 2014?

A: Always keep writing! I have three works in progress that I plan to complete. And I also have two others that I want to get to. So I guess that means my goal is to finish five novels. (I’m suddenly realizing that I might be insane . . . )


Margo Bond Collins lives in Texas with her husband, their daughter, several spoiled cats, and a ridiculous turtle. She teaches college-level English courses online, though writing fiction is her first love. She enjoys reading urban fantasy and paranormal fiction of any genre and spends most of her free time daydreaming about vampires, ghosts, zombies, werewolves, and other monsters. Waking Up Dead is her first published novel. Her second novel, Legally Undead, is an urban fantasy, forthcoming in 2014 from World Weaver Press.
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Twitter:  @MargoBondCollin
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Monday, November 4, 2013

Giveaway, Interview, and a New Adventure Comming Soon!

On October 31, I participated in Write Away Bliss' Paranormal Palooza.  Here is a link to a guest post I did as well as an interview, top ten, and an excerpt from Sunshine in Darkness.  I am also hosting an Ebook giveaway of Sunshine in Darkness -- follow the link to signup here.

In other news The Adventures of Abby and Sofia: The Willing Stone is due to release this month!  More on that soon!