J.B.HAWKER, Author

Writing not-quite-cozy Mystery/thrillers from a Christian worldview

Welcome, wonderful readers!

J.B.Hawker, cozy fiction authorYou have arrived at the official website of award-winning author, J.B. Hawker.  You will find my weekly blog update below.

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Progress Report on A Corpse in the Chapel

Hello Happy Readers,

Today’s blog is a quick update on my current work in progress.  I’ve reached the 40,000 word mark in the manuscript (aiming for 50,000), the first third has been through a couple of edits and I’m working on cover ideas, as you can see.draft corpse in chapel cover 6X9

This third book about the pastors’ wives of Bannoch, Oregon, features the Presbyterian pastor’s wife, Judy Falls.  Quirky, impulsive, out-spoken, bohemian, vegan, uber-recycler Judy goes foraging for wild herbs and mushrooms and turns up the mummified remains of a murder victim in the abandoned chapel in the woods. The investigation into this cold case seems hopeless, but the indefatigable Detective Ransom is soon on the trail of the killer.

We learn what’s happening with Judy’s twins, Paisley and Astilbe, now seniors in high school and catch up with the other First Ladies in this latest visit to the seaside community they call home.

I would love to hear your opinion on this cover idea. Your input will be considered when I develop the final design.

Thanks for stopping by!

P.S. Seadrift, the third book in the Bunny Elder series is on a Kindle Countdown Deal for only 99 cents thru May 25.

 

Second Saturday Author Interview: Diane Weiner

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Diane Weiner

Today we are visiting with cozy mystery author, Diane Weiner. Diane is a veteran public school teacher and mother of four children. She has enjoyed reading for as long as she can remember and, like many of her fans, has fond memories of Nancy Drew and Mary Higgins Clark. Reading on snowy weekend afternoons in upstate New York she yearned to write books that would bring that kind of enjoyment to her readers. Being an animal lover, she is a vegetarian and shares her home with two adorable cats and a little white dog. In her free time, she enjoys running, attending community theater productions, and spending time with her family (especially going to the mall with her teenage daughter and getting Dairy Queen afterwards). Murder in the Middle is the third book in her Susan Wiles School House Mystery series and she has plans for many more.

  • Thanks so much for stopping by, Diane. My blog is read by writers as well as their fans. I know many of them would love to learn the process you went through to find your publisher, Cozy Cat Press. What services does this publisher provide to the author?

Diane: I think finding Cozy Cat Press was one of those “meant to be” situations. Believe it or not, while my students were taking their final just before Christmas break, I googled “cozy mystery publishers” and found Cozy Cat Press. I loved the name! I sent a query letter to Patricia Rockwell as well as the actual manuscript for Murder is Elementary. I heard back from her within a short time and was offered a contract. I was ecstatic. I never would have made it as a self-published author because I would have gotten frustrated right away trying to format it myself. Cozy Cat hires a cover designer, who presents several options. I pick the one I like best, then work with her to tweak it. It’s a collaborative effort and I’ve been extremely pleased with each cover. Cozy Cat also edits. Book promotion is done as a whole rather than for individual authors. For example, we wrote a collaborative mystery called Chasing the Codex (I wrote chapter 17) which was promoted both by Cozy Cat and by each of us. Patricia also takes out ads for the company, which benefits all of us.

  • How did you come up with this clever series title?weinerbooks

Diane: I have to thank my husband, Bob, for coming up with Murder is Elementary as a title for the first book. The others follow the pattern. As far as the series title, I wanted to mention the sleuth as well as make it obvious that the mysteries were centered on schools. My younger daughter, Laura, came up with the “Susan Wiles School House Mysteries” series title.

  • Your early years were spent in upstate New York. Have you lived in New York all your life?

Diane – I grew up in Highland, NY, a small town in the Hudson Valley, about 90 minutes north of New York City. There were 180 kids in my graduating class. I now teach that many freshman in my section of Earth Science alone! I went to UNC Chapel Hill for college, and haven’t lived in NY since. I lived in Athens, Ohio following college graduation, then married my husband, who I met at a music camp in Northern Michigan. Together, we lived in Norman, Oklahoma, Mexico City, Mexico, and finally settled in South Florida where both of our families live.

  • How long have you been a vegetarian? What prompted you to make this lifestyle choice? Can you share a favorite recipe?

Diane: I have been a vegetarian for about seven years now. I’ve always been an animal lover, but after my daughter and I watched the movie Food Inc., we both swore off meat forever. There are so many alternative meal choices, that I can’t condone slaughtering and mistreating animals for food. It was an easy transition. Anyone who knows me knows I’m an awful cook, so I can’t say I have any great recipes to share! My children won’t let me live down the time I ran out of butter and substituted mayonnaise in their Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.

  • Your first book, Murder is Elementary has been followed by others in the series all focused on education, do you have any plans to begin a different series in the future?

Diane: I’ve wanted to start a second series for a while, but didn’t have an idea of what I wanted to do. I got my inspiration while writing Murder is Legal, my latest in the series (Book 6). Susan and Mike were invited to visit their friends who recently inherited a family cabin in Vermont. The book I’m writing now, Murder is Collegiate, introduces the new characters, Emily and Henry Fox. Susan and Mike visit Sugarbury Falls and, of course, are confronted right away with a murder involving their old friends. The new series, The Sugarbury Falls Mysteries, will feature Emily and Henry as the sleuthing couple. I plan to start that series over the summer when I have the luxury of being off school and writing all day long.

  • While writing your books, who is your target reader?

Diane: My target reader is anyone who enjoys a good, clean mystery. I think it especially appeals to teachers, grandparents, and retirees.

  • How do reader reviews influence your writing?

Diane:  The positive ones give me bursts of energy to keep writing. I have modified my writing a bit thanks to more critical ones. I have made Susan a bit less impulsive and more sensitive to stepping on her detective daughter’s toes. And never again will I happen to make the murderer a minority.

Thanks for sharing with us today, Diane. I know my readers will want to dip into one of your murder is legalbooks, soon, and we’re all excited to be the first to know about the publication this week of your latest,  Murder is Legal.

 

Visit Susan Weiner’s author page on Amazon.

 

 

Reader Survey Results

I recently sent a Reader Survey to all the wonderful folks who have signed up for my periodic newsletter.  I wanted to see if the Ideal Reader I’ve been writing for reflects my actual fans.

I was gratified with the results and I was a little surprised, as well, to see the diversity of interests and demographics represented by my readers.  I will be taking this new information into account in all my future writing.  I hope you will see bits of your own life reflected in future books.

Thanks so much to everyone who took the precious time to answer this brief survey.

Reade3D Something Bluers and writers: what a great team!  To show my appreciation, “…and Something Blue” is available for only 99 cents this week via Kindle Countdown.

Next week, the Second Saturday in May, be sure to stop by and enjoy a visit with author, Susan Weiner.

The Spark of an Idea

Breaking News: Scientists have been able to capture the moment life begins, with a bright flash of light as a new life is conceived…

Human life begins in bright flash of light as a sperm meets an egg, scientists have shown for the first time, after capturing the astonishing ‘fireworks’ on film.

An explosion of tiny sparks erupts from the egg at the exact moment of conception.

Most writers struggle from time to time with writers’ block, that awful failure to conjure up an idea. When the illusive fragment of thought finally springs into being, it is as though a light bulb has turned on to illuminate the path ahead.lightbulb

Scientists have observed that life begins with a flash of light, just as the spark of an idea breathes life into a manuscript.

Fiction writers are sometimes said to write their stories from the omniscient, or God-like perspective, as we create characters and worlds from the glimmer of an idea.

We authors are privileged to share the results of these tiny sparks with our readers, as the light brings the worlds created in our imaginations to life.

No wonder reader reviews and feedback make us glow.

Have you emailed a favorite author, lately, or written a bright, sunny review?   Now is a good time to brighten someone’s day.

 

Character Sketch: Judy Falls

It is time to get better acquainted with Judy Falls, the main character in A Corpse in the Chapel, coming out this summer. We first met Judy in book one of The First Ladies Club series.Judy

Birth Name: Judith Anne Cushings. Married to Rev. Kenneth Falls when she was eighteen. Ken is twenty years older than Judy, but the marriage is a happy one.

Background: Judy is the youngest child of an older ministry couple and was raised in a series of rundown parsonages with her two brothers, Nathan and Aaron. Her father was remote and strict, but kind. Her mother was subservient to her father, and deferred to him in all things.

Occupation: Pastor’s wife, mother of twin teen-aged daughters, recycler extraordinaire, gardener, and craftsperson

Physical Description: Judy is a young-looking woman in her mid-forties. She’s medium height,  with a voluptuous figure (she thinks she’s too fat), and dark blond shoulder-length hair (usually untidy). Judy prefers hippy-bohemian garb (mostly either vintage, hand sewn or loomed) and is partial to gypsy-style layered skirts, peasant blouses, flowing shawls and scarves. She often appears at least slightly disheveled as she flits from woodlands to garden to workshop. It would not be unusual to find Judy digging through piles of roadside discards or an abandoned building looking for treasures to re-purpose and give away.

Personality: Sweet, sincere, energetic and slightly ditsy. She has never outgrown her childish mannerisms and is outspoken to a fault, but never malicious. Naive in some ways, Judy is wise in others. She plays child-bride to her much older husband, but that role is beginning to chafe. We will see Judy mature and develop in our current story.

Habits/Mannerisms: Judy is a vegan who loves all of creation. She can be scatter-brained and clumsy. Messy in her personal style, she is meticulous in the garden or workshop. In earlier centuries she might have been the village wise-woman, living in a ramshackle cottage full of medicinal herbs and potions.

Internal Conflicts: Judy loves the Lord and her family, but she’s beginning to feel stifled by her husband. Her daughters are about to go away to college and she is becoming restless. She wants a new challenge and an opportunity to become, and be seen as, a capable adult. However, she still enjoys having Ken take care of her and treat her as his child-bride.

External Conflicts: These arise in the pages of the current book, so you will need to wait to read about them. The sneak peek on the Work in Progress page of this website will give you some idea of the adventures awaiting Judy.

I can promise you a few surprises in this latest book in the First Ladies Series.

Subscribe to my newsletter to be among the first to hear when this book is released.

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The Works of J.B.Hawker Weekly Blog

I have been writing a weekly author blog at jonnaturek.wordpress.com for a couple of years, now. Many of you are following via WordPress, email, or Twitter (Thank you!).

Recently, I created the JBHawker.com website. In order to streamline site maintenance and have more time for writing great content, starting today I will be migrating the blog to this new JBHawker.com site.

The old site will continue to hold archived blogs until I can get automatic re-directing kinks worked out.

I hope you will explore all the fun extras on these pages and consider signing up for my quarterly email newsletters, as well.

You will need to sign-up or follow this site in order not to miss any blog posts in the future.

Thank you for your patience and understanding. As always, my readers are the best!flowers in vase

 

The Tortoise Two-Step Vs. the Bunny Hop

As the eBook and Print on Demand phenomena hit the scene and began to grow, it created a new industry supporting and advising independent authors . Whenever I heard about a new site, tool, or technique I filed it away for the day when I would have time to read and try out the information, since I was working and spent my free time writing.

When the day came and I was able to quit my day job and devote myself to being an author, my first impulse was to dive into this backlog of advice and immediately implement all the wisdom I’d compiled. I was hopping off in all directions at once like a schizophrenic jack rabbit. I made very little forward motion in spite of all my effort and was becoming frustrated. Worse still, I wasn’t writing. Even though my first and still-favorite character is called Bunny, this system was not working for me. I needed to prioritize and take my time.

We are often reminded that writing is a marathon and not a sprint. Very few authors become overnight successes and many of the best spent years developing their craft, so I decided to slow down, forget about trying to immediately replace my previous salary with book royalties, and concentrate on writing the best books I can, while testing and  implementing promotional practices one at a time.

The bit of advice I’m concentrating on at the moment comes from Stephen King: know your Ideal Reader. I’ve created a bio of this IR in order to get to know her better.

I have been utilizing Twitter for some time to promote my books and support other authors, with mixed results.  Keeping Stephen King’s advice in mind, I am now focusing my  own tweets on my Ideal Reader and only retweeting what I think the IR might find interesting. For instance, I know my IR doesn’t want books with half-naked men or women on the cover. She isn’t into vampires or zombies, either, but she’ll read a cozy with a ghost or witches, if there are enough cats in it. I don’t write those, but she likes them, bless her heart.

I’ll let you know how my new slow and steady system goes in a future post. Just be patient.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Second Saturday Interview with Author Linda Crowder

Today we’re chatting with talented writer, Linda Crowder.

Linda lives with her husband and a variety of happy pets in the wilds of windy Wyoming.

Thanks so much for joining us, Linda.

  • Cropped head shotReaders are interested in how familiar writers are with the locations in their books. Your Jake and Emma series is set in Wyoming. How long have you lived there?

I moved to Wyoming in 2006 and have spent the last ten years exploring the state. My husband is a third-generation Wyomingite and has been a wonderful tour guide. I can’t believe I grew up so close to Yellowstone and the Tetons and had never visited them until I moved here. They are spectacular and should be part of everyone’s summer vacation at least once.

  • I understand that you grew up in Colorado and also lived in the Bay Area, but your new series is set in Alaska. Have you ever lived there?

I haven’t lived in Alaska, but I’ve been to towns very similar in feel to my imaginary Coho Bay. Unlike many tourists, I spend a lot of my time talking to locals about what it’s like to live there – the good and the bad so I hope they’ll feel their time talking to me was well spent when they read the new book.  I’m returning for another two weeks in May and hope to be back on a regular basis.

  • You are not only an author, but also a career coach. What exactly does a Career Coach do, and how does this work influence your writing?

Different coaches have different areas of specialization. Mine is working with people who’ve been laid off. I help them explore what they’d like to do next. Some want to jump right back into the work force, doing pretty much what they’ve done before so I help them be more competitive in doing that. Others want to step back and think about their next move and I help them explore what they might want to do next, then map out a strategy to take them there.

My work in nonprofit human services, which I did before I became a Career Coach, bubbles up in Emma’s career as a therapist and in Jake’s work in juvenile justice. I very carefully don’t base people in the books on people whose stories I’ve been privileged to hear over the years, but what I’ve learned about mental health and about how the courts work does find its way into the books.

  • You have many pets and include them prominently in your books. What is your favorite real-life anecdote about one of your animals?

I have, at current count, seven cats and one incredibly patient dog. Ringo left me a couple of years ago and is now starring in my short stories about his exploits as a ghost cat. That cat had too much personality to say good-bye! One day he was sitting on the porch, flopped on his ringoside in his lion pose, listening to my husband talking with his daughter and her fiancé. My husband made the mistake of saying that Ringo was too “fluffy” to catch a bird. Well, that cat stalked off the porch and was back not five minutes later with a bird! Caught and released, mind you, just to prove that he could.

  • How delightful! Do you find that your readers connect more with your characters because of the character’s connection to their pet(s)?

I get emails and comments from readers who love that I write rescue animals into the lives of my characters. I’ve always had rescue animals and I absolutely love them. I’ve adopted kittens and puppies, but I have to say I’ve had the best luck with the adult dogs and cats I’ve brought home. They are much more easily introduced into the crowd I always have with me and they are so often passed by in favor of the babies. I encourage everyone to consider adopting an adult cat or dog.

  • You are currently an independent author. From your experiences of doing all the promotion, etc. yourself, will you be looking to sign with a traditional publisher in the future?

I am looking at working with a small press for my Coho Bay series and we’ll see whether they like the book enough to offer me a contract. It’s a LOT of work being author and publisher in one and I would love to see some of that workload go off my shoulders. However, I won’t hesitate to publish independently in the future. It’s been a learning experience, but a satisfying one.

  • Any advice for other indie authors?

Two things helped me most. First, join a really knowledgeable and supportive author’s group. There’s so much to learn but you don’t have to re-invent the wheel. Second, make the investment in an editor, even if only a line/copy editor. It makes a huge difference.

  • Who designs your covers?

Carla Garcia, who is a graphic artist. I am her only covers. She normally designs websites and marketing material.

  • Current work in progress? Plans for the future?

Coho Bay is with my editor right now. My next work is the fifth Jake and Emma book, A Body on the Ballot, which is currently in outline form. I am planning to spend a month in Texas next year, researching locations and culture as a setting for a work I’ve been tossing around in the back of my mind for more than a year now. I’d planned to write it after Death Changes Everything came out, but Coho Bay elbowed it’s way in and demanded to be written first. Books do that.

We will keep an eye out for Coho Bay and the next Jake and Emma.  We have enjoyed sharing with you today, Linda. Thanks so much for stopping by.

Readers can sign up for notifications of new releases and promotions on your website, http://www.lindajcrowder.com/

See Linda’s Amazon Author page: http://smile.amazon.com/Linda-Crowder/e/B00A3AY5RG

 

You may already be a winner: April Fool!

Welcome to the IndieBRAG April Fools Day Contest: APRIL-FOOLS-POSTER I

Happy April Fools Day, Dear Readers,

I know some of you think the real April Fool’s Day falls on April 15, but that’s a discussion for another day. Today you are being put to the test to see how well you remember what you read (or is this a test of how memorable my characters are? Oh dear, the prank may be on me!).

Oh well, to carry on, below you will find a scene from one of the books in my Bunny Elder Adventures series of thrillers and mysteries. OR IS IT? That is the test.

After reading the scene, respond with a comment of TRUE or FALSE. Correct answers will be eligible to win a copy of my book. 

I will read your comment and let you know if the scene is really from one of my books. If not, and you guessed True, or if it is an authentic scene and you guess False, my reply will be “April Fool!”   If you guess correctly, my response will be, “Happy reading, and best of luck in the drawing!” If you wish to enter to win a copy of my award-winning ebook Vain Pursuits please email me at jbhawker@jbhawker.com with your preferred format (Kindle or epub) before midnight PDT April 4). The winner will be announced on this blog on April 5.3D Vain BRAG

IMPORTANT NOTE: In order for you to be included in the drawing for my book, we will need an email address to send the book file. If you would also like to be added to my newsletter email list, please indicate that in your comment. If not, I promise you will not be added, and if you chose to be added, you may opt out at any time. I don’t spam or share your email address.

You do not need to answer correctly to be entered to win the $50 Amazon gift certificate. Simply go to the indieBRAG event website to enter.

Thanks for participating.

Scene:

The severely blonde flight attendant wrestled impatiently with her serving cart while making halting progress along the narrow aisle between banks of cramped gray seats in a Lufthansa Airbus high above the Atlantic Ocean. Turning from side to side she grimly dealt out pre-packaged dinner trays to the restless passengers. Although her icy pale hair and crisp blue uniform remained unruffled, the stewardess was obviously near the end of her tether from long hours of forced congeniality with the fretful mass of economy-class passengers assigned to her care.

A creased and crumpled, though still dignified, elderly man, inching back to his seat from a thoroughly disheartening visit to the claustrophobic restroom, inadvertently blocked the attendant’s forward progress. Peremptorily rapping the old fellow’s shoulder, she hissed sharply with Prussian authority, “You must not block the aisles! Return to your seat, immediately.”

With a gasp, the man recoiled, stumbled and landed without ceremony in the soft lap of a petite middle-aged woman. Mortified, he attempted to scramble to his feet, but the serving cart bumped him back onto his startled seat mate.

The old gentleman creaked stiffly to his feet as soon after the flight attendant’s passing as possible, trembling with humiliation and repressed rage.

“Please excuse me, madam. I am so terribly sorry. Have I injured you?” the man addressed his fellow victim in very slightly accented English as he attempted to regain his composure.

“Oh, no, not at all. I’m fine. Really. Don’t worry about it. That certainly wasn’t your fault. Brünnhildes assault would have done in a lesser man, I assure you. You are lucky to have survived,” Bunny Elder replied with a wry smile, as she straightened her khaki skirt and pushed a lock of graying blonde hair back into place behind one ear.

“Yes, well, it would appear there are reasons why this particular airline was never touted as part of the ‘friendly skies’.”

Official rules:

Prize & Giveaway

Prize and book giveaway starts April 1st. The winner of the $50.00 Amazon Gift Card will be announced on April 5th on the indieBRAG  website.

Click on the indieBRAG Website starting April 1st and comment to enter for a chance to win a $50.00 Amazon Gift Card!

Each author is providing a print copy or e-book in the book giveaways. Be sure to visit their websites and comment on their post to enter a chance to win a copy of their book.

Rules:

–         The chance to enter for the prize and giveaways ends April 4th. The winner of the Amazon gift certificate prize will be announced on the indieBRAG  Website on April 5th. And each author will announce the winner for their giveaways on their sites at the date they choose.

–         You must be 18 years or older to participate in the prize & giveaway.

–         Giveaway is open internationally.

–         Winner has 48 hours to claim prize and giveaway or a new winner is chosen.

Visit all these great blogs to have more chances to win the $50:

Easter Greetings

As my readers know, I write about Christians in various stages of their faith walk. Believers who sometimes stumble when encountering temptation or confronting evil, but who get back up and keep pressing on.

All of my main characters, from Bunny Elder to Naidenne Davidson, Judy Falls and the other pastors’ wives of the First Ladies Club, and the ordained ministers, Merrill Bishop and Elizabeth Gilbert, are currently preparing to refresh their spirits and revive their faith in the upcoming celebrations of Christ’s Resurrection on Easter Sunday. Their church sanctuaries have been decked out with banners and lilies by their church women’s groups, the musicians have been practicing cantatas and other special music for weeks, the choir robes have been cleaned and the instruments are tuned in anticipation of the glorious event. Sermons have been prayed over, practiced and polished to present on this special day.

While the worldly may think Christmas is the highlight of the year, Christians know Christmas is just the prelude to the fulfillment of the Resurrection.

If you have the opportunity, I pray that you will take advantage of all the preparation and anticipation and share in all this joy and excitement by attending worship at a church near you this Sunday.

Happy Easter, dear readers, and a Joyous Resurrection Day to you all!

Silhouettes of Three Crosses

 

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