March 30, 2013


Diane Burton mans The Pilot where no woman has gone before.
 

Diane Burton combines her love of mystery, adventure, science fiction and romance into writing romantic fiction. She’s a member of Romance Writers of America® as well as the Mid-Michigan, Young Adult and Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal RWA chapters as well as the SFR Brigade. She is the author of the Switched series, about twins exchanging places—from Earth to a starship and the reverse. With The Pilot, she begins a new series about strong women on the frontier of space. She is also a contributor to the anthology How I Met My Husband. Diane and her husband live in Michigan. They have two children and two grandchildren. 

Could you please start by telling us a little about yourself? 

I’m a wife, mother, grandmother, writer—in that order, though some days the order changes, like when the grandkiddies come to play. I’ve lived in Michigan most of my life with a couple of detours to Missouri and Chicago as we followed Hubs’ job. I write science fiction romance—heavy on the romance, light on the science—and romantic suspense. 

Please tell us a little about your new release without giving too much of a spoiler away. 

The Pilot kicks off my Outer Rim series about strong women on the frontier of space. There's no place like home and he just stole hers. For space pilot and cargo hauler Celera d'Enfaden, her ship is her home. Because of a misunderstanding, rule-bound Administrator Trevarr Jovano confiscates her vessel. Then he has the audacity to ask her to help him find his wife’s murderer. Celara agrees if he will help her save her brother from a galactic gangster. 

What was the hardest part of writing your book?  

Figuring out what would make Celara agree to help Trevarr. 

What comes first: the plot or the characters? 

Neither. The first scene always comes first. I “see” it like a movie in my mind then start writing. 

Do you plan all your characters out before you start a story or do they develop as you write? 

They definitely develop as I write. It always amazes me what they tell me—especially about their past. 

Do you have a ritual when it comes to writing? Example….get coffee, blanket, paper, pen, laptop and a comfy place. 

I write first thing in the morning so I need coffee (love my Keurig), my laptop, and my comfortable chair with a footrest. I have a lovely desk that Hubs made for me that I use more as a depository for papers.  

Do your books have a common theme or are they all different? 

They are all different. Yet almost all of the heroines are influenced by their fathers and not in a good way. Fathers who are disappointments or have high expectations that the heroine can never achieve. I’m sure a psychologist would have a field day with that. 

How long does it take you to write and then edit a story? 

That’s really hard to say. I’ve been writing for nearly twenty years. Some of the first manuscripts should stay buried. LOL They were practice. My most recent books were already written—just needed polishing—before being released. The book I’m writing now (rather, finishing) has taken me nine months from beginning to last edits before going to an editor. 

How do you go about naming characters? 

In my sci-fi rom books, I take a combination of sounds to see what feels right. In my contemporaries, I’ll go through a baby name book until a name hits me. 

What so you see for the future of publishing and e-books? 

There are readers who will always love the feel of a print book. I used to feel that way and resisted e-readers. Until Hubs “made” me get a Kindle. I am madly in love with it. Because of the convenience—not just reading but also purchasing—e-book sales have already surpassed print on Amazon. I just wish the NY publishers would lower the unrealistically high prices of their e-books. 

What are your current books out right now, and what are the books coming up for release? 

The first two books in the Switched series—about twins switching places from Earth to a starship and the reverse—are available. Switched was originally published in print. After I got the rights back, I released it in digital form. Switched, Too and The Pilot are available in print and digital. The third book in the Switched series, Switched, the Aftermath, will be released in the spring. And, I just sold a romantic suspense, One Red Shoe, to The Wild Rose Press. 

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?  

Play with my grandkiddies. Seriously. LOL I also like to read or watch movies. Both Hubs and I enjoy action adventure so we go to the movies a lot. And because he’s such a great guy, he’ll go with me to see fantasy (Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter) even though he doesn’t care for them that much. I love gardening but unfortunately bad knees have made that difficult.  

Where can the readers learn more about you and find your books on the web? 

For all my books, check my website: http://www.dianeburton.com 

Besides my website, readers can find me around the Internet at:

CONTEST:  It’s been a pleasure being here today. I’m giving away a Smashwords coupon for a free copy of my first book Switched. Just leave a comment with your email address. The winner will be chosen Saturday night.
 

                             There's no place like home and he stole hers. 

Forced to use her starship as collateral to replace stolen cargo, pilot Celara d’Enfaden risks losing everything if she fails to deliver the goods. Her ship is the home she never had as a child.
Determined to bring order to the frontier, rule-bound official Trevarr Jovano refuses to tolerate those who disrespect the law. So when an indie pilot refuses to obey, he seizes her ship and cargo.
The only thing Celara cares about more than her ship is her brother. To rescue him from the clutches of a galactic gangster, she’ll even join forces with Trevarr who is bent on avenging his wife’s murder.

 The Pilot is available digitally at Barnes& Noble; in print and digitally at Amazon.

March 23, 2013


Sharon Sala investigates Rebel Ridge
 
Sharon Sala is a long-time member of RWA, as well as a member of OKRWA.  She has 85 plus books in print, published in four different genres – Romance, Young Adult, Western, and Women’s Fiction.  First published in 1991, she’s a seven-time RITA finalist, winner of the Janet Dailey Award, four-time Career Achievement winner from RT Magazine, five time winner of the National Reader’s Choice Award, and five time winner of the Colorado Romance Writer’s Award of Excellence as well as winner of the Booksellers Best Award.  In 2011 she was named RWA’s recipient of the Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award.  Her books are New York Times, USA Today, Publisher’s Weekly best-sellers.  Writing changed her life, her world, and her fate.
Please tell us your latest news! 
I have several books coming out this year.  The first one is TIL DEATH, a romantic suspense, which is book 3 of my Rebel Ridge Trilogy.  It will be out mid-March for paperback and April 1 for digital version.  I’m writing another Young Adult book in my Lunatic Ghost series.  LUNATIC TIMES TWO is the 4th book in that series.  It will be out some time this fall, I think.  I’ll also have the second book out in a paranormal series I’m self-pubbing under my pen name, Dinah McCall.  The first book WINDWALKER, in my Prophecy series, came out last fall.  It’s available in print and ebook from Amazon.com, from B&N, and for order from any bookstore in print, as well.  The second book in the Prophecy series will be THE DOVE.  It will be available sometime later this year.  I also have a southern women’s fiction book coming out from Sourcebooks in Sept/October.  The short story introducing the book will be out in September in ebook format only.  It’s called COLOR ME BAD.  The book that follows in October is THE CURL UP AND DYE, available in both print and ebook.  It’s about a small southern town (Blessings, Georgia) and how their lives seem to revolve around the beauty shop, The Curl Up and Dye.  I’ll also have the first in a new romantic suspense trilogy out this fall.  The book, GOING ONCE, will be released by Mira books.  The other two books in that trilogy are GOING TWICE and GOING GONE.
Please describe your writing environment. 
Because I take care of my 93 year old Mother full-time (she has dementia and lives with me) my writing environment is anywhere I can find some time on my own and some peace and quiet.  I have and office, but it’s next door to her room, so that’s no longer a viable option.  I’m not picky.  I’ve learned to write pretty much anywhere.  Right now, the favorite spot is on a sofa that has a recliner built in.  It’s situated in a family room that’s part of a very large kitchen.
Do you plan all your characters out before you start a story or do they develop as you write?
Most of my books come to me in dreams, so I know all of it before I start, except some of the secondary plots.  They develop as the book goes, but I am required to do a synopsis format for my publisher beforehand, and part of it comes from that aspect as well.
How much research do you do for your books? Have you found any cool tidbits in your research?
I research according to the storyline, not across the board.  I already know a lot of what I’m writing about, and what I don’t, I look up.  I am NOT a history buff, so research is usually a distraction I do not look enjoy.  I write in a contemporary voice because I don’t like making history ‘fit’ my stories.  I don’t want to be held to historic details.  I always say, I write fiction, which means I can make it what I want it to be. 
What main genre do you write in? 
Romantic suspense but of late, I’m branching out into women’s fiction and fiction.
How does your family feel about having a writer in the family? Do they read your books?
My family is proud of me and the career that I’ve made for myself, and yes, they read my books.  I started writing Young Adult for the simple fact that my younger grandchildren weren’t old enough to read the romance, although most of them are now.  But I enjoy writing in different genres and will probably continue to do so.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I always laugh and say my writing originated because of chickens.  I had a job I hated checking groceries in a local grocery store, and once a month they would put chicken on sale.  People bought so many chickens during sale day that I couldn’t get that smell out of my nose.  I wanted a job that had NOTHING to do with chickens, and writing romance was about as far away as a person could get.
Do you write full time? What did you do before you became a writer? Or Still do?
Yes, I write full time now and am single, but before I did that, I was a full-time farmer’s wife.  I drove tractors, hauled hay, helped combine wheat, drove trucks to market, helped fix fence, raised a large truck garden, chased cows… cooked three huge meals a day for husband and workers, everything that the now famous “Pioneer Woman” blogger turned TV cook does without getting paid for my labor.  LOL  In between all of that, I also was a secretary at public school, worked in a florist shop, was a court clerk in the local city hall.
Do you have a specific writing style?
My readers say I write with emotional intensity.  I don’t really know what my specific voice is, but I do believe that everything in life eventually comes full circle, so… however my book begins, I like to tie it up at the end with the same references at the ending.
If you could be one of your characters - Who would you be? And why?
I would be Layla Birdsong, the heroine from WINDWALKER, under my pen name, Dinah McCall, because she is most closely aligned with how I see and want to live in the world.What do you do on a typical writing day?
Who is your perfect hero? And why?
For me, the perfect hero has to be the WINDWALKER himself.  He was male personified.
When you have writer's block how do you break free?
I can’t afford to have writer’s block.  I have a mortgage.
What would be the best way for readers contact you? Do you have a website? Email address? MySpace site? Blog? Message Board? Group?
Readers can contact me at sharonsala@cox.net, or on FB as Sharon Sala.
 
He left in handcuffs. Now it's time to set himself free.
Nearly twenty years after he was wrongly convicted of setting the fire that killed his father, Lincoln Fox returns to Rebel Ridge, Kentucky. There, deep in the Appalachians, the truth of that terrible night lies buried—and he's sworn to uncover it.
His plans take an unexpected turn when, in the midst of a blizzard, he rescues Meg Walker from her wrecked car. Suddenly Linc discovers another reason to clear his name. Meg, his high school sweetheart, had always believed in his innocence, and if he wants a future with her, he has to show the world proof that she was right.
As the community chooses sides, those who once let a teenage boy take the fall for their crime are forced to raise the stakes. They kidnap Meg, leaving her to the mercy of the mountain. And a second rescue may be more than even Linc can manage….
 
 
 

March 16, 2013


Annette Synder, Brings Family Stories to Life
 

Annette Snyder calls small town Nebraska in the heart of the Midwest, habitat of cornfields and combines, her home.  In an old house, with husband and dog, Annette sits and write. 
Four grown children visit often and the grandkids cause beautiful havoc. 
All her life, Annette paid attention to things around her, stories from her parents, friends, grandparents and great-grandparents, and one day she compiled those stories and wrote a book.  It was that one book that started a wave of ideas and the story characters just keep pestering her so Annette continued to write all the time, work when necessary and vacation as much as possible.   

Visit Annette Snyder  http://annettesnyder.atspace.com There you’ll find contact information, events, purchasing details and a link to her popular blog, Fifty Authors from Fifty States or visit here: http://annettesnyder.blogspot.com   Face Book: Search Annette Snyder-Novelist.    

Available Now: Respectable Affair-http://www.whiskeycreekpress.com
2011 EPIC Award Finalist-Contemporary Romance
 

Please tell us your latest news! 

From my real job, I work at a landfill and everyday is different, to my real life, where my husband and I expect to have grandbaby number five shortly, my life changes every day. Some would say I’m fortunate because I essentially avoid a rutted life.  Since I gave up my part-time temporary job that lasted eighteen years, I occasionally enjoy those quite Sunday afternoons with much appreciation.  I use that time to write and am in the process of completing the third novel in my contemporary series, Going Twice.     

What main genre do you write in? 

I’m a romance author.  I love the happy ever after.  I do have one mystery building in my brain but I’ll have to read more of that to understand how it’s written.  

How does your family feel about having a writer in the family? Do they read your books? 

My daughters and daughters-in-law have read all my books.  My mom encourages me as did both my grandmothers.  Each has their favorites. My hubby isn’t a reader and my oldest boy, though he does read, likes biographies—and I couldn’t get him to read anything in high school.  I remember the first published novel I gave my oldest daughter.  She hadn’t ever read an entire book all the way through and she texted me from work so excited.  “I finished Sally Murphy!  It was awesome!” Now she reads all the time so that’s a good thing.    

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? 

I always wrote.  Bad poems and poorly written stories began in high school.  Creative writing classes in college showed me that I could actually put a beginning, middle and end to something.  Life got in the way sometime between college and a visit with a friend years later who told me the story of how her family landed in the Midwest.  Leaving that discussion, I thought what a terrific story it would make so I combined pieces of what she told me with pieces of my life and wrote Travis Pass, my first complete novel.  Travis Pass was my third novel published and I dedicated it to my friend—who cried when I gave it to her.   

Do you have a website recommendation for other writers? 

There’s always my site:  http://annettesnyder.atspace.com.  There you’ll find contact information, events, purchasing details and a link to my popular blog, Fifty Authors from Fifty States.  My blog is a fun project I thought of three years ago.  It involves writing professionals from all fifty states.  If you’re a reader, there’s interesting articles each week about one author from one state, sometimes prizes!  If you’re someone involved in the writing world, there’s info about getting involved in my project.    

When you have writer's block how do you break free? 

Writers block plagues everyone, even people who don’t write more than letters and emails.  I usually get a block during the middle of a story or when I’m not quite sure what line a character might take.  On the days that words avoid me, I force myself to write just a few sentences and eventually I get over the hump.   Other I’ve talked to say that they attend a workshop or work on another piece to get through.   

Do you belong to a critique group? If so, how does this help or hinder you? 

I’m not a good joiner so attending a group doesn’t usually work for me.  I also hold a full time job that I love so that cuts into scheduling time to physically attend.  It’s hard to get off work at 5:30 and get home, cook supper and be out the door.  Face it, I chase around all day at work, I don’t want to come home and do the same.  However, I was fortunate enough to be invited to join a small online group. I believe there’s five or six people involved.  The rule is:  honestly critique two and post one.  Sometimes the comments tear my work apart and sometimes they point out the good points.  I’ve learned so much about structure, flow and word usage that I find it invaluable.  The fact that it’s online means I don’t have to schedule more than computer time.   

What's your favorite genre to read? 

I am a historical reader but I read all sorts of stuff.  I also like stories that don’t take too much brain power to figure out and books that I can read in a few days. I suppose that’s why I write books 65,000 to 80,000 words...there’s probably a little ADHD in me.   

What was your first published work and when was it published? 

My first published novel came out in 2005, Sally Murphy.  It was actually the third story I ever wrote but the first one I sold.  That’s a novel based in 1800’s and its part of a series but it’s also readable as a standalone like the other six in that series.  You can find out all about all those plus the rest of my work on my website.  

Is there anyone who really mentored or inspired you to keep writing until you were finally published? 

And I just have to answer this question because I believe everyone is guided over their lifetimes to do just that ‘something.’  In my case, when I was a kid, six sets of grandparents and great-grandparents lived within a twelve mile radius of me.  They were all part of my parents support system so they’d take turns caring for me and my siblings. I listened to the stories they told of tackling horse and buggy drive to towns’ miles away for supplies and battling sickness on ocean voyages while traveling to start new lives.  I knew I was being told those stories for a purpose.  Even as a kid, something told me to remember. I did and one day I started writing.  All my work has bits and pieces of those stories, told to me by family who actually lived through the making of America, The Great Depression, World Wars and all that and, though I write fiction because I enjoy it, the ideas come from real life tales.   

Here’s my Website:  http://annettesnyder.atspace.com
My Publisher:  www.whiskeycreekpress.com
A Nebraska Co-Op organization I’m involved in: www.growne.com


Thanks so much Romancing the Heart for having me today and please stop here often—it’s a great place to get the latest on all your favorite authors plus ones you haven’t read. 
 
Rock Creek, third novel in the Travis Pass Series and the story of Lindsay Hopkins-Pass, her struggle happiness and finding her place in life.
When her mother is murdered during a barroom brawl, Lindsay’s only chance for survival is to live with her father, Travis Pass.
Under his care, she learns love and security until Ernie Atkins destroys it all. Ernie’s evil act forces Lindsay to make choices that affect her life, the life of her fiancĂ©, Luc Fricke, and the life of her unborn child.
With the help of people who live on the shores of Rock Creek, Lindsay may learn that love and commitment can turn even the worst of circumstance around.

 
 

Contest:  Annette is offering one autographed copy of any of her released novels, winners choice, to one person who comments during my blog post. 

 

March 9, 2013


SS Hampton, Sr., goes through The Gates of Moses
 
SS Hampton, Sr. is a full-blood Choctaw of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, a divorced grandfather to 13 grandchildren, and a veteran of Operations Noble Eagle (2004-2006) and Iraqi Freedom (2006-2007). He has served in the Army National Guard since October 2004, and holds the rank of staff sergeant. He is a published photographer and photojournalist, an aspiring painter, and is studying for a degree in photography and anthropology—hopefully to someday work in underwater archaeology. His writings have appeared as stand-alone stories, and in anthologies from Dark Opus Press, Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy, Melange Books, Musa Publishing, MuseItUp Publishing, Ravenous Romance, and as stand-alone stories in Horror Bound Magazine, Ruthie’s Club, Lucrezia Magazine, The Harrow, and River Walk Journal, among others. As of December 2011, he became the latest homeless Iraq war veteran in Las Vegas, Nevada.
 
Please describe your writing environment.
It’s a rather austere and tiny efficiency large enough for a bed, a long folding table and a second kitchen table, with several bookcases for my books and magazines, and storage cases for my DVDs and CDs. As I can’t stand silence I’m always listening to music or have a DVD playing on my flat screen TV. And, that’s about it.
Do you plan all your characters out before you start a story or do they develop as you write?
I plan the major characters in some detail such as where they were born, year, education, and personalities. I even write a few words about their parents. Strangely enough, probably due to my own background, almost all do not have siblings. I don’t think I’d know how to write about brothers and sisters. Once I have the character established and start writing I have a good idea about how a character will react in what situations. Sometimes though, as the story progresses, the character evolves as well.
How much research do you do for your books? Have you found any cool tidbits in your research?
As much as it takes to establish a believable background. Yes. For instance, for a World War II story that takes place in North Africa, I learned of “troglodytes” that live in the Matmata Hills of southern Tunisia. It seems (according to Wikipedia) that not even the government knew of them until the late 1960s, I think, when there were severe rains in the area. Seems this small “branch” of the Berbers (a desert people scattered across North Africa) dig a pit in the ground, build walls around the pit, and then cover their homes with dirt. Basically you wouldn’t notice you were passing through one of their villages unless they emerged from their homes. I knew that “Star Wars” was filmed in Tunisia, but it seems that the home where Luke Skywalker lived with his aunt and uncle is actually a “troglodyte” hotel at the edge of the Matmata Hills (according to Wikipedia).
If you had to choose one person to have dinner with, who would it be? And why?
Gee – Lady Gaga or Bernard B. Fall? Britney Spears or H.P. Lovecraft? Katy Perry or George Armstrong Custer? What the heck—George Armstrong Custer. Tell me of West Point in the 19th century. Tell me in detail of what it was like to be a cavalryman on campaign in the Civil War; tell me of human courage and foolhardiness, and of the chaos of the noise of musketry and cannon fire, and the blur of smoke and dust. Tell me about the western prairies and the Native people there. Finally, tell me in extreme detail of that day on the Little Big Horn in June, 1876. Tell me why you positioned your cavalry companies the way you did, and finally, tell me of that moment when you realized there was a mistake, and you knew that you and your men were going to die.
Do you write full time? What did you do before you became a writer? Or Still do?
No. I wish I did with appropriate financial reward to allow me to write full time, but I attend college full time, and I continue to serve in the Army National Guard. I consider myself to be a writer, and I worked for the Federal government when my first story was published. I left Colorado, worked briefly out here in Las Vegas, Nevada, became unemployed, and joined the Guard. I continue to work for the Guard from time to time in addition to monthly drill, but regarding a civilian job—I can’t even get hired to sweep and mop and pick up cigarette butts.
When you have writer's block how do you break free?
Breaking free of writer’s block is an act of desperation. There are many things I want to write, but can’t. The motivation, the desire and need to put a story on paper is there, but it’s like trying to break out of a block of ice. But finally, forcing myself to type, though I know what I’m writing is no good, is a first step. I force myself to keep at it a little every day. The words become more than empty shells, they become words full of meaning that strung together, become a story. The old desire of putting a story on paper and editing (I dislike editing) to make it a better story, comes to life. And the writer’s block is shattered.
Is there a genre of book you would like to write but haven't yet?
I have to admit, steampunk. I don’t know much about it, but it sounds like a challenge. And it might even be fun.
How can readers find out more about you and your books?
Google “author SS Hampton Sr” and my name will pop up on the first 6-8 pages. Guest blog postings and interviews will give a pretty good idea about me, as well as lead to the publishers of my various writings.
What's your favorite genre to read?
There’s two—science fiction and horror. Unfortunately, I don’t make time to read fiction that much anymore. What I read is mostly research material, and military articles and books.
What was your first published work and when was it published?
THE 24TH OF DECEMBER was a little 2,400 word short story published in 1992. I submitted it to a fledgling literary magazine in Colorado Springs, Colorado, titled JOURNEYS. Journeys was a print magazine published by the owner of a little bookshop located in a former home. To my great surprise it was accepted.
 
An engineer dedicated to saving Venice from the rising seas, fails in his task. As a severe storm and high tides threaten to burst through the flood walls, he resolves to remain in Venice with a ghostly lover who claimed his heart years before. A woman from his staff who loves him, does not evacuate, but remains to battle his ghostly lover before he dies in a sinking Venice…

March 2, 2013


Mark Bouton will Sacrifice for the FBI

 

Mark Bouton obtained degrees in sociology and law, then entered the FBI where he worked terrorism and criminal cases for 30 years. He was stationed in Alabama, New York, Chicago, Puerto Rico, Texas, and Kansas. As an agent, he captured killers, con men, kidnappers, and bank robbers. He played a key role in identifying the Oklahoma City bombers.
Bouton writes suspense novels, with five published to date, the latest an FBI thriller titled The Sacrifice. In it, the FBI races to find a kidnapped baby before she meets an unthinkable fate. He also writes non-fiction books, his latest titled How to Spot Lies Like the FBI. It shows how to tell when someone is lying by their facial expressions, body language, and verbal indicators.
          He’s married, with four sons, and lives on a horse ranch in St. Mary’s, Kansas. His books are at: www.amazon.com/Mark-Bouton/e/B001JP4A3S. He also has a website at www.mmbouton.com 

Could you please start by telling us a little about yourself?
I grew up in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. We lived in houses that were at the edge of town, so I spent my childhood hiking around in the woods by creeks and shooting my BB gun or .22-cal rifle. I didn’t like to shoot at birds or animals, but I liked target practice. Another influence in my youth was that I discovered and loved mystery novels from The Hardy Boys to Sherlock Holmes to The World’s Greatest Detective stories. Then I went to college at Oklahoma State University and earned a degree in sociology. Next, I attended law school at Oklahoma University. I heard an FBI agent talk about the job while I was in school, and when I graduated, I went to work for the FBI as a Special Agent.
I liked the challenge of viewing a crime scene, collecting physical and witness evidence, and then trying to put together the pieces to solve the puzzle of who committed the crime, how, and sometimes even why. I worked in the FBI for 30 years, doing criminal investigations and some work in terrorism cases. I was stationed in New York, Chicago, Puerto Rico, Texas, and Kansas. I was able to catch kidnappers, killers, con men, bank robbers, and jewel thieves. I also played a key role in identifying the Oklahoma City bombers.
In school, I found I liked writing assignments, and my teachers were encouraging to me. I began writing novels, and naturally, I gravitated to writing mystery/suspense books. I’ve been fortunate in being published with traditional publishers. I also wrote a nonfiction book based on my law enforcement experiences and from research. It’s entitled How to Spot Lies Like the FBI. It details ways of telling someone is fibbing by reading his facial expressions, body language, and various verbal indicators.
I’m married, have four sons, and live on a horse ranch in northeast Kansas. I enjoy exercising, reading, watching movies, and playing my electric guitar. And I try to keep up with mowing and doing repairs around our country place. I continue to write both novels and nonfiction books. 

Please tell us your latest news!
My latest novel is an FBI thriller set in San Antonio, Texas. It features male and female FBI agents who spearhead a kidnapping investigation. In the book, the FBI races to find a kidnapped baby before she meets an unthinkable fate. In the book, there’s interaction among politicians, criminals, FBI agents and police, and a satanic cult. It’s entitled The Sacrifice, and was published by Oak Tree Press in Illinois. It recently received an award as the Best Book of 2012 by reviewer Fran Lewis, a reviewer, writer, and radio host on the Red River Radio station. It also won Best Thriller Cover in a contest sponsored by Venture Galleries. It’s available at Amazon and at Oak Tree Books. I’ve just completed the first draft of another thriller novel and am in the process of editing it. Next, I plan to write a nonfiction book about lying that’s geared toward women. 

How much research do you do for your books? Have you found any cool tidbits in your research?
I’ve found that each new novel I write requires a good deal of research. Readers want the details of one’s book to be accurate. And I try to keep my books that way. I’ve written about organized crime, racism, cybercrime, gang violence, religion, and satanic cults. All called for extensive research. The novel I’ve just completed deals with UFOs and aliens. I realized I had little knowledge on the subjects, and it was necessary to look at a great deal of material and sort it out. One interesting situation I ran across was that a UFO is believed to have crashed in Aurora, Texas, in 1897. The townspeople disposed of the craft itself by throwing the debris down an old well. The pilot of the UFO, a small alien only about three feet tall, was buried in the local cemetery and given a tombstone which was later stolen.  Citizens of the town have historically been reluctant to talk about the incident. 

What is your writing process? Do you outline, fly by the seat of your pants or a combination of both?
In my first three novels, I outlined in various ways, including using a cork board display to follow the development of the main plotline, as well as the different subplots. After that, I decided that I had the general design of plot imprinted well enough on my brain to use a basic one page outline divided into the various chapters. I also keep 3” x 5” cards with a few sentences on each describing what happened in the particular chapters. I maintain character profiles for the main actors in my book. Typically, I know the subject I want to explore, know that the book will start with a crime being committed or just discovered, the middle will show the investigation done to solve the crime, and the ending third to show the terrible moment before the main character triumphs, the epiphany, the wrapping up of subplots, and the main climax, followed by the denouement. And I try to write a last paragraph that will make the reader say, “Wow, that was quite a ride.” I also hope it raises important questions for the reader to think about and perhaps act on in their lives long after they’ve read the book. 

Do you have a specific writing style?
Sure, I think every writer has a style that reflects his or her personality, ideas, passions, desires, and outlook on life. And the level of development of his craftsmanship to express the ideas and emotions of his story are clearly evident, as well. My style includes lots of action, dialogue meant to convey character and background and beliefs, and an underlying humorous take on life’s situations. I like to explore different themes in my books. In my latest novel, The Sacrifice, I attempt to make the reader think about whether or not we’re treating our children in the best possible way. 

Can you please give us a sneak peek at any of your upcoming books?
I don’t usually talk about a book until it’s finished. Some writers say that takes away from the energy needed to actually write the book. I do know that the book doesn’t get written just by talking about it.
But in short form, it’s basically about FBI agents and other people being killed in bizarre ways. The task for Max Austin and other law enforcement personnel is to find out if there’s a connection among the victims and to deduce who is masterminding the scheme. The trail seems littered with clues that point at some connection with UFOs and aliens. But how likely is that? And where do you find such suspects? Max and the others need to learn the truth behind UFO sightings and the explanations for them by the military, FAA, and the CIA. And even if they do locate them, how will they gain access to them?

Do you belong to a critique group? If so, how does this help or hinder you?
Yes, I belong to a critique group that meets weekly. We read four pages and make whatever comments seem helpful. There are quite a few good writers and people with varied and interesting backgrounds, so our collective range of knowledge is pretty extensive. They’ve given me quite a few good tips on procedures or names for items used in certain trades. I can tell by watching them as I read whether I’m keeping their interest. And I see minor mistakes or any false or overdone dialogue when I read my pages out loud. I’d recommend any writer find a solid critique group with people who read and write at a high level of competency. 

Is there anyone who really mentored or inspired you to keep writing until you were finally published?
I didn’t have a mentor, per se. But I was in another good critique group that was very helpful to me in determining whether my protagonist was strong enough to hold their interest and whether the plot was advancing in the right direction and at a good pace. I was also helped by reading some of my favorite crime writers such as Robert Campbell, Elmore Leonard, Ed McBain, Lee Child, Sue Grafton, Janet Evanovich, and Nancy Pickard. There are many others that I read and like, so the list is definitely not all inclusive. 

What would be the best way for readers contact you? Do you have a website? Email address? MySpace site? Blog? Message Board? Group?
They could contact me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, LinkedIn, and CrimeSpace. My website is www.mmbouton.com. And my email address is markbouton@msn.com.  

How can readers find out more about you and your books?
They could look at my website, above. Or perhaps a better place would be at the Amazon site that describes my background and my books. Its www.amazon.com/Mark-Bouton/e/B001JP4A3S

 

The FBI races to find a kidnapped baby before she’s sacrificed by a satanic cult. When the newborn daughter of a Texas state senator is snatched from the hospital, FBI agents John Ransom, a crafty veteran, and Kathy Devereaux, a striking Cajun rookie, head the pressure-filled investigation to save the infant. The agents learn a Palo mayombre cult plans a human sacrifice. But there are other suspects, and all possibilities must be checked. The agents catch the senator getting cozy with a nurse from the hospital. Evidence shows inside help in the kidnapping, adding more suspects to the list. They’re all found to belong to the cult, and they are determined to sacrifice the senator’s baby. Now the FBI must trick the bloodthirsty cultists and stop the ceremony before they do the unthinkable.