Who’s That Indie Author? Jennifer S. Alderson

Author name:  Jennifer S. Alderson

Genres:  Mystery / Thriller / Historical Fiction / Travel

Books:  Marked for Revenge, Rituals of the Dead, The Lover’s Portrait, Down and Out in Kathmandu, Holiday Gone Wrong, and Notes of a Naive Traveler

What’s your story and how did you become a writer?  Thanks for inviting me to your blog, Book Club Mom!

I am an American currently residing in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. My passion for travel, history, and art inspires my novels. I have been writing for as long as I can remember, but until my late twenties, it was all non-fiction for newspapers and magazines. After an incredible trip to Nepal, I wrote a fictionalized version of my adventures but didn’t know what to do with it. The sudden death of a close relative was the catalyst to get it published.

How do you balance your work with other demands?  Balancing my roles as writer, business owner, wife, and mother is an enormous challenge! My focus shifts weekly, depending on the current needs of my family and business. However, my writing time is well-guarded!

Name one of the happiest moments in your life:  Aside from meeting my husband or the birth of my child, I think it was receiving my Dutch passport. It has been a long and sometimes difficult transition into expat life, but I am so glad to be in the Netherlands. It feels like I’ve come home.

What’s your approach to writing? Are you a “pantser” or a planner?  Planner all the way. Without a concise outline, I am completely lost! However, once I start writing, I allow myself to listen to the story and follow the path it takes me on, even if that means deviating from the outline.

Could you write in a café with people around?  I love writing in busy cafes! Silence reminds me too much of my former corporate life. I write faster and better when surrounded by fairly loud music that turns surrounding conversations into white noise. Otherwise, I would be eavesdropping instead of writing. J

Have you ever written dialogue in a second language? If so, how did you do it?  I have included Dutch, German, and Italian phrases in my novels. Honestly, I am quite nervous about getting it wrong every time I do. One great advantage of living in such an international city is that I know native speakers who I could double check my translations with.

What’s your favorite book and what are you reading now?  There are so many great books to choose from! I am a huge fan of Donna Leon and just finished rereading By Its Cover. I admire her ability to bring Venice to life in each and every novel.

What’s your favorite way to read a book: hardcover, paperback, eReader?  I used to read exclusively paperbacks but in the last few years I have transitioned to eBooks. I read so many, it makes it a whole lot cheaper to stock up and take them with me!

Do you think print books will always be around?  I hope so. There is nothing more wonderful than holding a paperback in your hand. I do still buy paperbacks of my favorite reads, as well as give them as gifts.

Would you ever read a book on your phone?  I have not. I am not a fan of smart phones and try to use mine as little as possible.

What’s your go-to device? iPhone, android or something else?  I do read eBooks on my iPad and have reading apps installed for iBooks, Kindle, Bol, Kobo, and my local library.

How long could you go without checking your phone?  Days, possibly weeks! I am not good about checking messages or calling people back straight away. Since becoming an author, I check my email and social media much more often than I used to, but it is still a challenge to stay on top of all of the messages I receive!

Do you listen to audiobooks? If you do, what do you do while you’re listening?  I have recently discovered audiobooks and enjoy listening to them when working on marketing and social media.

Do you like using social media to promote yourself and your book? If so, what’s your favorite platform?  Connecting with readers is one of the most enjoyable things about this job! When you write a book, you have no idea if anyone will be able to relate to the characters, setting, or plot. Publishing a book really is a leap of faith. Chatting with readers who enjoy my work or share the same interests I do, really makes it fun. Facebook is my favorite platform, though I am also often on Twitter and Instagram.

Website and social media links:
Website:  jennifersalderson.com
Twitter: @JSAauthor
Facebook: @JenniferSAldersonauthor
Goodreads Author Page: Jennifer S. Alderson
Amazon Author Page: Jennifer S. Alderson

Awards/special recognition:  My novels have won several readers awards, including 5 star medals from Readers’ Favorite, Chill with a Book, and indieBRAG. They have also been included on several Recommended Reads lists on websites such as The Displaced Nation, TripFiction, and Women Writers, Women’s Books.

About the Author:  Jennifer S. Alderson was born in San Francisco, raised in Seattle, and currently lives in Amsterdam. After traveling extensively around Asia, Oceania, and Central America, she moved to Darwin, Australia, before finally settling in the Netherlands. Jennifer’s love of travel, art, and culture inspires her award-winning, internationally oriented mystery series—the Zelda Richardson Mystery Series—and standalone stories. Her background in journalism, multimedia development, and art history enriches her novels. When not writing, she can be found in a museum, biking around Amsterdam, or enjoying a coffee along the canal while planning her next research trip.


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Run Away by Harlan Coben

Run Away
by
Harlan Coben

Rating:

Simon Greene is desperate to find his daughter Paige, who has dropped out of college, is addicted to drugs, and on the run with her user boyfriend, Aaron. Acting on a tip, Simon sees her in Central Park and is sure he can save her. But Paige runs and Simon may never catch up.

Harlan Coben’s latest action thriller looks at a seemingly normal family with highly successful parents and smart children as they struggle with one daughter’s addiction. How right it had all seemed when Paige went off to college! Now the future is anything but bright.

Before long, Simon and his wife, Ingrid are deep into trouble and surrounded by highly dangerous people. Murder, conspiracies, family secrets, paid assassins and a cult cloud and threaten their search for Paige and before long, Simon is packing a weapon.

I enjoyed this fast-paced story, with a plot that’s hard to explain without spoilers. Coben gives the reader a view of a happy marriage that comes close to crumbling and a family that, like many families, isn’t what it seems. As in the two other Coben books I’ve read, I like the author’s references to New Jersey and New York, an area where I grew up.

Run Away is entertaining, but the reader will need to accept several far-fetched plot developments. I was okay with them, but did not feel the story was as good as the other Coben books I’ve read (see below). Despite this comment, I would recommend Run Away to readers looking for a fast-paced, not-too-deep summer read and, since summer has just begun, the timing is right!

Looking for other Harlan Coben books? Try Caught and Tell No One

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What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman

What the Dead Know
by
Laura Lippman

Rating:

It’s 1975 when Sunny and Heather Bethany disappear from a busy mall outside Baltimore, Maryland. Under eye-rolling protest to her parents, Sunny had agreed to let her younger sister tag along and eleven-year-old Heather was thrilled to go. Maybe she’d spend her birthday money and they’d definitely get a Karmelkorn. But at fifteen, Sunny had her own plans and the two had separated when they arrived. ”I don’t want to do anything with you. I don’t care where you go. Just do your own thing and come back here at five-twenty,” she’d told her sister.

At 5:30, Dave Bethany waited and waited to pick up his daughters, but they never showed. What happened that day and when do you stop looking? Despite an intensive investigation, the case goes cold, and their exhausted parents’ lives are shattered.

Thirty years later, a mysterious woman returns to Baltimore and claims to be Heather. She knows a great deal about that day in 1975, the Bethany family, and the old neighborhood, but her wily personality is making the detectives suspicious.

In this character-driven mystery, the key players lead the reader through the day the girls disappear and the details of the case. Heading the investigation are Detective Kevin Infante, a twice-divorced ladies’ man and retired detective Chet Willoughby, who was so invested in the case he took the file home with him when he left the force.

The story is written in past and present and from various points of view and readers get a look at the Bethany family before and after the girls’ disappearance, including the parents’ imperfect marriage. I thought it was particularly interesting to see how Dave and Miriam Bethany cope and what they do as the years pass. They have both faced the same tragedy, but adapt in very different ways.

Heather or no, whoever this woman is, she has a painful past and has learned how to survive under the radar, mostly by using her quick mind and manipulative personality.

Lippman reveals key details as the story develops. Some are false leads, others suggest the truth. All is revealed in the final pages with a satisfying conclusion. I enjoyed reading this mystery, published in 2007. Laura Lippman is a New York Times best-selling author of nineteen novels, both stand-alones and the Tess Monaghan series. Her newest standalone, Sunburn, looks like a good summer read!

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Who’s That Indie Author? Lucia N. Davis

Author name:  Lucia N. Davis

Mini bio: I live in Michigan with my husband and our three children. I love to travel and explore the world, whether it is hiking in desolate places with beautiful nature, or sniffing up culture in old (and newer) cities. Having young children makes all of this a bit harder to accomplish, but it’s never too early to expose them.

Genre:  Mystery/Suspense

Books: The Dunnhill Mysteries: The Baby on the Back Porch (#1), The Charm of Lost Chances (#2) and The Secrets of Sinclair Lodge (#3). The main character, Sara Eriksson, moves from San Francisco to a small mountain town in the Northern Cascades, to find some peace and quiet. The old village has been a silent witness to mysterious events long forgotten. But sometimes the past has a way of resurfacing…

Each book can be read as a stand-alone mystery, but some character threads run throughout the series. All books have a paranormal component and a hint of romance.

When did you begin your writing career?  I was always making up stories, and at some point I started writing them down. I published my first story in 2016.

What’s your approach to writing? Are you a “pantser” or a planner?  A bit of both, more like a plantser. I usually start with an outline, just so I have something to focus on when I write, but many things just happen as I go. I like having the freedom of exploring random ideas as they pop up.

What’s your working style – morning or late-night writer?  I write whenever I have a chunk of time available. I have three young children, so free time is not something I have an abundance of. I prefer mornings, since my brain is just more awake, but I’ll write in the evenings as well if I need to.

Do you work at a computer or write long-hand?  Laptop. Writing would give me serious hand cramps!

What gets those words flowing, coffee or tea?  Coffee. No competition.

Favorite book:  Pride and Prejudice. Jane Austen was so talented in describing her contemporaries. It’s surprising how many of her observations would still work today.

Favorite movie: That’s a hard one. I don’t have one I’m afraid. There are so many excellent movies to choose from. I don’t get to go to the movies very often, so I always run behind. Nowadays, most of what I watch has to qualify for a kids’ movie night. I just watched the first Harry Potter with my eldest, which was great. And the other day I watched Coco with my seven-year old, and towards the end we were both crying. Also a very good one!

Favorite musician: I don’t have one of those either! It depends on what I do and how I feel. I love so many different kinds of music, ranging from Mozart to Imagine Dragons. I have playlists for different moods, or activities like driving my car and working out.

Links: Website: luciadavis.com
Facebook: @LuciaN.DavisAuthor
Twitter: @LNDavisAuthor
Goodreads: LuciaNDavis


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The Glass Room by Ann Cleeves

The Glass Room
by
Ann Cleeves

Rating:

Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope has another crime to solve when her neighbor, Joanna Tobin, goes missing and an influential professor is murdered. Could Joanna, who is off her meds, be responsible for the professor’s death?

In the fifth of the Vera Stanhope series, which is also a popular show on Netflix, the stocky, gruff and brilliant detective investigates Tony Ferdinand’s murder. With Sergeant Joe Ashworth at her side and Detective Constable Holly Clarke close behind, Vera steps into the unfamiliar realm of writers and publishers, all trying to either get in the game, or stay in it, at Miranda Barton’s Writers’ House.

Ferdinand has been found stabbed and crouching on the balcony off the glass room and Vera is first to question the set-up. “Did he sit on the balcony and wait to be stabbed to death? Or was he moved afterwards? I mean, this all seems madness to me.”

As Vera digs, it seems everyone has something to hide, including Joanna, who is at the house on scholarship. Is what she has written the source of the crime? Why is Miranda’s son Alex defensive about his knives? And what is tutor Nina Backworth’s alibi? She hated Ferdinand and so did Miranda! Others at the weeklong course include a successful crime novelist, a former truck driver with a fresh new voice, and a former police inspector.

True to Vera’s character, the sharp-eyed detective has equally acerbic communications skills, pitting Joe against Holly and irritating many. She may be an imperfect and lonely human being, but no one can match her intuition.

Set in fictional Northumberland, England, I thoroughly enjoyed the coastline setting and clever story, in which the author offers clues, but saves the crucial details for the finish. Vera may be gruff, but Cleeves shows the detective’s soft sides as well. This is the second Stanhope mystery I’ve read. (Check out my review of The Moth Catcher here.) and, while Vera and her crew are regulars, readers will have no problem jumping in wherever they please. I see this as a great way for readers to enjoy books from a series without having to commit to reading a long line of books and I recommend The Glass Room to readers who enjoy entertaining and intelligent mysteries.

Have you read any of the Vera Stanhope books? Have you watched the show? I checked out the first DVD at the library and will be watching it soon!

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Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke

Bluebird, Bluebird
by
Attica Locke

Rating:

Darren Matthews is a conflicted Texas Ranger and now he’s in hot water with the force for helping out a family friend facing murder charges. On suspension, Darren is not technically a Ranger, but he can’t resist going rogue with a new investigation. In the tiny East Texas town of Lark, a black man and a white woman have been murdered, days apart. Is there a connection between the two? Darren suspects it has something to do with the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, but there are many other factors, including the complex relationships between the people of Lark. As a black Ranger, Darren must step between centuries-old racial tension and make sense of these crimes.

Darren, whose identity is tightly tied to Texas law, is also under pressure from his wife to leave the Rangers and return to law school. But that may be impossible. Land, birthrights and the pride of the Ranger uniform are powerful forces and she doesn’t get it.

The story takes place at several places in Lark, a dot along Highway 59, the main road in East Texas. Geneva Sweet owns the sole café that welcomes blacks and her regulars are like family. Wally Jefferson, a white businessman, is the big landowner in a brick mansion across the street. There’s an unexplained history between the two, shown in equal measures of tension and familiarity. Up the road sits Wally’s ice house, friendly to whites, but hostile to blacks.

Bluebird, Bluebird is much more than a murder mystery. It’s a story of race, family, secrets and East Texas, a land that has close ties to the South and Louisiana culture. Outsiders have a hard time understanding, or gaining trust from the local folks, where even secrets between enemies are closely held. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, the first in the Highway 59 Mystery Series. It finishes with a bombshell, setting the reader up for lots to think about until the next book comes out in September 2019.

I recommend Bluebird, Bluebird to readers who enjoy mysteries in which complex characters with mixed loyalties must face difficult choices.

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Who’s That Indie Author? HL Carpenter

Author name:  HL Carpenter

Genre: We’re multi-genre authors. We write mysteries for adults, young adult and middle grade fantasy, coming of age, and mystery novels and novellas, space operas, and short stories. All of our books are family-friendly, with minimal offensive language and sweet romance.

Books:
Murder by the Books, mystery
Taxing Pecksniffery, space opera
The Ghost in The Gardens, middle grade mystery
“The Demise of Fyne Literature,” allegorical short story
Walled In, middle grade/young adult
A Cause for Murder, cozy mystery
Pirate Summer, middle grade/young adult fantasy
The SkyHorse, middle grade/young adult fantasy
Jack and The Fountain of Youth, middle grade/young adult fantasy
Dream Stealer, a middle grade/young adult fantasy

When did you begin your writing career? Long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away. Or maybe just yesterday. We lose track of time when writing and each story is a fresh beginning.

What’s your approach to writing? Are you a “pantser” or a planner? As you can probably tell by the varied list of genres above, we resist being boxed in. We like the freedom provided by structure, and we also like freedom from structure. This is one of the true benefits of writing with a partner—we balance each other.

What’s your working style—morning or late-night writer? This depends on the flow of the story. When the words of the first draft are tumbling over each other, the writing session that begins in early morning can last until late night.

Do you work at a computer or write long-hand? The computer for intense sessions; long-hand for those times when random ideas strike.

What gets those words flowing, coffee or tea? Water, please, either plain or with a twist of lemon. And hot chocolate on cold days. With whipped cream. Lots of whipped cream! 🙂

Favorite book: [Loud discussion arises] We have to pick just one? [Hems and haws around for a few minutes] Okay, this question should not be so difficult. Let’s just tell the truth here—our favorite book is the one we are currently reading.

Favorite movie: The last movie we watched in the theatre was Mission Impossible #4,569. Probably not a fave, though we do like Tom Cruise’s acting. We did get a good chuckle out of the longest motorcycle chase in the history of movies.

Favorite musician: This can vary depending on the book. Handel’s Water Music plays a role in our cozy mystery, and we enjoyed listening to it while writing.

Links:
Website: hlcarpenter.com
Twitter: @hl_carpenter
Pinterest: HL Carpenter, Author


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What’s That Book? The Racketeer by John Grisham

TitleThe Racketeer

Author:  John Grisham

Genre: Legal thriller

Rating:  3 stars

What’s it about?  When Judge Raymond Fawcett is murdered and his safe is emptied, the FBI scrambles to solve a crime with very little evidence. Then comes an offer from Malcolm Bannister, a former attorney who is serving time in a Federal prison camp for money laundering. Bannister says he knows who did it and why, but he wants a deal.

How did you hear about it?  I was looking for something different and entertaining to read and found The Racketeer at the library.

Closing comments:  I enjoyed this clever story, which carries the reader through a plot that seems straightforward and evokes sympathy for Bannister’s seemingly wrongful conviction. Grisham introduces characters and presents facts as needed and by mid-story, we think we have an idea how it will all work out.

But new characters and twists lead in a different direction and just enough information is left hanging until the finish, when it’s all wrapped up. In the end, you can’t help but return to the beginning and rethink the characters. Grisham shows us that the question of what is fair game does not always have a clear answer.

I liked Bannister’s character, even as we learn more about him and see to what lengths he will go. I enjoyed the fast pace of the book and how Grisham pokes fun at the FBI. If you’re a lawyer or a former inmate and you take issue with some of the facts or unrealistic turns, make sure you read the Author’s Note at the end, telling us this is “indeed a work of fiction.”

It’s been years since I read The Firm, The Pelican Brief and The Client, which I thought were excellent. This does not seem as substantial, but is entertaining nonetheless.

Contributor:  Ginette


whats-that-book

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What’s That Book? The Murder of Mary Russell by Laurie R. King

whats-that-book

TitleThe Murder of Mary Russell

Author:  Laurie R. King

Genre: Detective fiction

Rating:  4 stars

What’s it about?  The 14th book of King’s Mary Russell series in which the author incorporates characters from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes mysteries into new detective stories. This one includes Sherlock Holmes and his landlady, Mrs. Hudson, as well as Mary Russell, Holmes’ wife, a new character created by King at the beginning of the series. The book is based on Doyle’s “The Adventure of the Gloria Scott,” a tale involving Mrs. Hudson’s father as a young man, as he is transported as a prisoner from England to Australia. A mutiny ensues, the ship explodes and Hudson finds himself adrift.

The bigger story is about Clara Hudson, James Hudson’s daughter, and how she came to be Sherlock’s landlady and housekeeper, first at his Baker Street residence and now in Sussex. It begins in 1925 when Clara returns from the market to a bloody and upturned house. Sherlock is out and Mary is nowhere to be found and Clara fears the worst for a young woman she considers family. Who has been to their house and why are Clara’s personal belongings in disarray?

Clara has learned a few things about how to handle evidence and the process of deductive reasoning and has useful information for Sherlock when he returns. The book is partially narrated by Mary herself, with alternating chapters going back to 1850s when Clara is a young girl and later.

In the back story, James Hudson is not a great father, often drunk and hardly trustworthy, but father and daughter become partners in crime as they work the crowds in both Sydney and London, picking pockets and developing more elaborate schemes to steal people’s money. The stories come together at the finish to connect the Sussex visitor and Clara’s two lives.

How did you hear about it?  I learned about it from the mystery book club I run at my library job. We will be discussing it next week.        

Closing comments:  I enjoyed this story very much. Although I’m sure it’s best to read the series from the beginning, I was pleased to be able to jump in so late. The first of the series, The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, is presented as a memoir and introduces Mary to Holmes. Most of the books are about their relationship. The Murder of Mary Russell is different because it is about Mrs. Hudson. I would recommend the series to devoted Sherlock Holmes fans as well as to readers who enjoy detective fiction.

Contributor:  Book Club Mom

For more information, please visit these recent posts:

On mystery writer Laurie R. King, Sherlock Holmes and fan fiction

When you have a Twitter conversation with a character from a book


whats-that-book

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Who’s That Indie Author? Janice Spina

whos-that-indie-author

Author name:  Janice Spina aka J.E. Spina

Genre:  Children’s, Middle-grade, 18+, Mysteries, Thrillers, Paranormal

Books:  21 at present, including these four recently published: Mariah’s Revenge, Abby and Holly – School Dance, Lucy the Talented Toy Terrier and Clarence Henry the Hermit Crab.

      

Click here for a full listing of Janice Spina’s books.

Bio:  Janice Spina aka J.E. Spina is an award-winning author who has been writing since the age of nine in the form of poetry. She became an author at the age of 65 after she had retired from an administrative school secretarial position. She loves to create fun and adventurous stories for children of all ages and intriguing novels for 18+. Her goal is to encourage children of all ages to read and hopefully cultivate a love of reading in them that will carry throughout their lives. Her motto is Reading Gives You Wings to Fly!

Favorite thing about being a writer:  I love to share my stories with others and see the joy in children’s faces when they read them.

Biggest challenge as an indie author:  Learning how to promote myself and bare my soul in order to do it has been the biggest challenge to me as an indie author.

Favorite booksThe Secret by Rhonda Byrne, anything by Agatha Christie or Jeffrey Archer, so many other authors too. I read both indie and traditional authors.

Contact Information:
Blog: Jemsbooks.blog
Website: jemsbooks.com
Facebook: @janicespina7;  @jespina77;  @janice.spina.9
Twitter: @janicespina
Email:  jjspina@myfairpoint.net

Awards/special recognition:
Mom’s Choice Award: Lamby the Lonely Lamb
Pinnacle Book Achievement Awards: Jerry the Crabby Crayfish, Broose the Moose on the Loose, Colby the Courageous Cat, Davey & Derek Junior Detectives Books 1, 2, 3, 5, Reader’s Favorite Book Awards – Honorable Mention & Silver Medal : Davey & Derek Book 1, 3, Authorsdb Cover Contest: Davey & Derek Book 5, Authorsdb First Lines Contest – Finalist: Hunting Mariah

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