Meet Teresa Michael

Teresa is a cozy mystery writer (with a touch of romance!) with a series, Mariposa Cafe Mystery, set in a fictional southwest Florida. You can find her ebooks on Amazon Kindle Unlimited. You can also get her books in paperback and audio.

What inspired you to start writing?
From the time I was a young reader, I’ve always loved mysteries. From Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys to Sue Grafton, Sara Paretsky, Michael Connelly, John Sandford, Karin Slaughter and so many more. When I retired from a career in healthcare, writing became my retirement gig.

What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting?
Keep writing. Don’t give up. Get your words out there. Go to conferences. Write. Network. Write. Learn. Join a critique group. Keep going. Write. Write. Write.

How do you develop your plot and characters?
First I get the idea for the story from where ever that comes from (the idea fairy?). Then I do a short rough synopsis of what’s going to happen, the crime/murder. I have a notebook, I call my bible that I keep this information in along with notes about characters, research reminders, etc. I also put ideas of the town, location, etc.I do a mind map with the victim in the middle, draw a circle around the victim’s name and then draw lines (rays) out from circle with the potential suspects and their possible motives for doing the deed. By the time I’m finished with this exercise, it looks like a sun with lots of rays coming out from it. Sometimes, I even color it in with colored pencils. I am mostly a pantser. I’ve tried outlining but I get too caught up in the outline and I end up not following it as the characters take me where they want to go. I do a synopsis about 3-4 chapters ahead and I may even do short scenes along the way that I work with when I get to that chapter.

 Writing can be an emotionally draining and stressful pursuit. Any tips for aspiring writers?
Take care of yourself. If a scene has been especially emotional for you, take a break. Go for a walk, have a glass of wine or a snack, read something in another genre than what you’re writing, watch something light on television. This helps to give you a new perspective. It is so easy to get drawn into the emotion of the scene especially if you’re writing something personal. After a calming break, you can go back and look at your writing from a clearer more objective perspective.In emotional or hard to write scenes, I find it helpful to identify what I want to accomplish in this scene, what do I need in this scene to move the story forward, or move the character forward. When you’ve finished with the scene, go back and make sure you’ve hit your marks.  This will help you to stay on track and not go down a rabbit hole that doesn’t do service to the story.  That is the goal for each scene—to move the story forward.

When writing a series, how do you keep things fresh for both your readers and also yourself?
Putting the main character in new and challenging situations helps to keep the series fresh, help the characters evolve, and keeps the reader guessing. For example in Deception in Mariposa Beach, Libby Marshall, the main character, discovers a family secret buried for 35 years. It’s a big secret that impacts her sense of identity, her relationships with her family, and stirs up lots of emotions for her. I like to have a cast of regular characters, sort of like a TV ensemble cast, and then introduce new characters and situations in each book. For example in Mistletoe and Missing Persons, Steve Devereaux comes to town and opens a gallery.  Who knew there was a skeleton hidden in the wall?In my new release this summer, Redemption in Mariposa Beach, a private detective is killed during the July Fourth celebration and the cast of quirky characters are questioned in the mystery. 

Where do you get your inspiration?
From everywhere and anywhere – the idea fairy

 What is the future for the characters? Will there be a sequel?
I hope there will be many more sequels as each regular character has a story to tell and with the location being a beach town, lots of people come and go.  Lots of opportunities for storytelling.I’m also planning to start another series called the Harrington House Mysteries, set in a bed and breakfast in an Ohio River town.  I grew in Ohio and Kentucky and I’d like to revisit that.Additionally, I’d like to revisit the characters in my novelette, Indian Rock, set deep in the mountains of Kentucky in the 1960s.

 How many plot ideas are just waiting to be written? Can you tell us about one?
There are so many – my mind is going all the time. After I write the first Harrington House mystery and maybe one more Mariposa mystery, I’d like to have Libby and Jack from Mariposa Beach go visit Harrington House. Libby is originally from Ohio and she goes back to visit for some reason – maybe her mother is getting remarried.  Anyway, that’s what’s cooking. I think that will be a fun book to write.

Who is your favorite author, and why?
I have so many I can’t pick. I love Rhys Bowen’s Her Royal Spyness Series; I love Karin Slaughters’ Grant County and Will Trent series, Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch, John Sandford’s Prey novels. I get their new novels on or near release day.
I also like Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache series, Elaine Viets Angela Richman Death Investigator series and her dead end job series, David Baldacci especially his Will Robey series and his new Atlee Pine series.

Would you rather have an endless summer or an endless winter?
I live in Florida so I sort of have an endless summer. I left the cold weather behind when I moved to Florida from Ohio. But, sometimes I do miss the fall leaves and a crisp autumn day.  

 Do you base your characters real people?
Some characteristics, yes.

How do you select the names of your characters?
Picking names is the hardest part for me. I had a contest to name the victim in the upcoming book, Redemption in Mariposa Beach.  I couldn’t come up with a name for the private investigator. I got lots of great suggestions.  Charles Winslow was the winner.  I gave away a book to the lucky winner.I keep track of the character names on a spreadsheet along with who they are, descriptions, who they’re related to, etc.

Be sure to follow Teresa on Facebook and Instagram.

My News…

Victoria LK Williams

Meet Erin Scoggins

I absolutely love how Erin discribes the genre she writes in! “I write contemporary Southern cozies. Think Steel Magnolias with a body count.” If that doesn’t make you want to pick up one of her Wedding Crasher books, then you need to come to the south for a while and absorb some southern atmospher. Erin’s ebooks are available in Kindle Unlimited and her paperback books are available wide. You can follow Erin on Instagram, Facebook, Goodreads and Bookbub.

Book 1 in the Wedding Crasher series

Where is your favorite vacation spot? Beach, Resort, or Poolside?
The beach! I’m lucky enough to live in North Carolina, and we have some of the best beaches around. Park me on the sand in the Outer Banks with my hunky hubby for a weekend, and I’ll be a happy woman.

Everyone takes a tote bag with them when they head out for a day at the beach. What’s in yours?
I always have sunscreen, trail mix, and at least two books. There’s nothing more heartbreaking than running out of things to read before your lounge time is up.

What makes your books perfect for a beach read? The setting, the story, or the characters?
When I’m on vacation, I want books that will help me escape. That means they’ve got to make me laugh, and they have to transport me somewhere delightful.

My Wedding Crashers series is set in the fictional town of Flat Falls, North Carolina. It’s a quirky beach town filled with characters you’d like to have as friends. It has all the good stuff we like about vacation: food, family, and adventure. And who cares about all those pesky dead bodies when you get to attend a wedding on a pirate ship?

What time of day do you usually write?
I’ve got three kids who always ask for snacks as soon as I sit down to write. And then there’s the hundred-pound dog who thinks keyboard time means snuggle time, so he crawls under my feet like an ottoman.

I’d like to say I get up and write every morning at seven and write happily until noon. In the real world? I’ve written in the carpool line, hiding in the bathroom, and on the back of a takeout menu while I was waiting in line to pick up food that I didn’t have time to cook. Stories come when they’re ready, and I just have to do the best I can to catch them.

Book 2

What does writing success mean to you?
I’m on cloud nine when I hear from a reader that I’ve helped them escape from their struggles for a few hours. When somebody invites me into their life and says my books have made them laugh and brought them joy, that’s success.

Where do you get your inspiration?
I grew up shucking corn and eating boiled peanuts with my grandparents in rural North Carolina. There is nothing better for a Southern writer’s inspiration than visiting a Piggly Wiggly in the sticks on any given Sunday. The rural South is full of wonderful, hilarious people who love to tell a story, and it’s easy to find inspiration if I just slow down long enough to pay attention.

What are the key themes and messages in your books?
I love to write stories about characters who think they’re hopeless. Maybe they’ve lost a job or had a heartbreak, or maybe they’re at a crossroads and just feel lost.

The best stories are about the beautiful ways we put ourselves back together again after everything falls apart. They’re about redemption, joy, and figuring out where you belong.

Pre Order Book 3 now, releases August 9, 2021

Erin’s answer to when she writes sounds like so many authors I know, myself included! And every writer knows, you have to get the words down, no matter what the obsticles. I’m ready to head to the pool, but I’ll be downloading one of Erin’s books before I go. It looks like weddings can be funny – and deadly!

Victoria LK Williams

Secret #16

Floriography: A new message with sinister meaning…

I find I’m fascinated with the combinations you can make with the different flowers and their meanings. From proclamations of true love to best wishes to warnings of death and misdeed. Something as simple and beautiful as a flower blossom once were the Morris code of the Victorian era.

The messages could be given openly as a gift or left on a doorstep as a warning. But only those who truly knew the language of flowers could decipher the meaning. At times this was a bit tricky because some flowers had double meanings. Let’s try another one…

Sweet basil – The aromatic herb to keep you healthy | sweet basil|  agriculture| herbal garden| Sweet basil usage| sweet basil health benefits
Basil: to show hate
Why lavender names are so confusing - and how to make it clear
Lavender Flowers: for betrayal
Oleander Flower; a warning to someone you mistrust

This message might be interpreted to say;

I hate you for betraying me, I’ll never trust you again

Victoria LK Williams

Meet Amy Vansant

Happy 4th of July Weekend!

This is the perfect weekend to catch up with your reading, and Amy Vansant will fit the bill nicely. Amy writes Urban Fantasy and Romatic Comedy and of course, Mysteries. I’ve read her Pineapple Port Mysteries and thought they were wonderful and comic. You can find all of her books on Amazon Kindle.

  1. Where is your favorite vacation spot? Beach, Resort or Poolside?
    My house since I moved to Florida! I’m a walk to the beach and have a pool so I have all the bases covered now. 😊

Everyone takes a tote back with them when they head out for a day at the beach, what is in yours?
I walk on the beach but I don’t sit for long. I like to people and dog watch… but I guess a water and something to read in case I get bored.

  1. What makes your books perfect for a beach read? The setting, the story or the characters?
    Both my Pineapple Port Mysteries and Shee McQueen Mystery-Thrillers take place in Florida near the beach!

What inspired you to start writing?
I just always did, even when I was very little.

What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting?
Keep writing! The only way you’ll ever make money is to keep writing more books… I got distracted making a living for a decade and stopped during that time. I could kick myself for it.

What time of the day do you usually write?
I get up early, so usually 4am to 6am unless I get distracted by work… which happens a lot…

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I’ve written a little over twenty… Generally the latest is my favorite because you get a little better at what you do every time you do it!

Are there any secrets from the book (that aren’t in the blurb), you can share with your readers?
I cleverly hid where I live, Jupiter, FL, as “Jupiter Beach FL” in the Shee McQueen novels. The location of the Loggerhead Inn, where my characters live, is my house (except it is on the Intracoastal Waterway and I’m not – need to sell a lot more books for that house!)

What did you want to be when you grew up?
A writer!

Would you rather have an endless summer or an endless winter?
Is that even a question? SUMMER!!

Tea or coffee
Both, but if I had to choose one forever, coffee.

Morning person or Night owl
MORNING. I don’t function at night at all. When the sun goes down, I start to fall asleep… and I love how quiet mornings are.

Do  you base your characters real people?
Often. If you’re a neighbor, be careful…

What’s the most challenging thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
Probably things I don’t even realize I’m getting wrong. LOL

How do you select the names of your characters?
I go to baby name websites or I run a contest to have my readers pick a name. For some reason if left to my own choices I fall back to the same six names or so. I have no imagination for names apparently.

Amy is also a fellow Sister in Crime, and we belong to the same chapter. I can assure you she is just as funny in person!

Have a safe and happy holiday!

Victoria LK Williams