I’m still not sure they [agents] need to exist, rather like jeans sweat pants and artificial black holes.
Morgan Talbot – 11 March 2013
The Back Flap
Love is a many murdered thing.
Three months after catching a killer, Margarita escapes to a historic hotel with Drew and Bindi for a Valentine’s weekend of geocaching. But during the love-themed costume ball, the CEO of a satellite navigation company keels over—and then his body vanishes.
As the weekend progresses, Margarita discovers threatening messages in the logbooks of local geocaches. Her attempts to unmask the blackmailer are thwarted by the last person she would have expected.
With a stubborn sheriff on the case, Margarita and Bindi must take matters into their own hands. But whether they’re chasing one killer or two, they have a problem: all their suspects seem to have solid alibis.
Between misunderstandings, outright lies, old secrets, and more than one corpse, it’s not Love in the air anymore. It’s Death.
About the book
What is the book about?
This book follows my plucky heroines as they try to take a relaxing weekend vacation to a historic hotel and find themselves caught up in another set of murders, involving everyone from the powerful Martin family to the hotel cook. At the same time, Margarita is trying to work on her relationship with her new boyfriend, Drew, and Bindi only seems to be getting in the way and making trouble.
When did you start writing the book?
I wrote this book in June of 2012, during the first Camp NaNo of the summer.
How long did it take you to write it?
Well, I tried to check the Camp NaNoWriMo website just now, because they track that sort of thing for me, but the stats page is down. So my best guess is somewhere around 20 days, if memory serves.
Where did you get the idea from?
Actually, I was inspired by the classic Agatha Christie novels, where at the end you have the detective in the library, saying, “I’m sure you’re wondering why I’ve gathered you all here today.” In a series that uses geocaching as the vehicle that brings the sleuths to the bodies, I found it an interesting challenge to come up with a setting in which my geocaching sleuths would have to stay put for much of the plot.
Were there any parts of the book where you struggled?
I had a challenge in shooing off my extras. I planned a large event at the hotel, but then the characters without speaking parts just wouldn’t leave, and they were crowding my plot. My content editor helped me come up with a humorous solution, though.
What came easily?
The dialogue interaction between Bindi and Margarita was ingrained in me after writing the first book in the series. Their distinct personalities are firmly fixed in my head now, so it’s easy to hear their conversations and write them down.
Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know?
They’re entirely fictitious as people, but each of them possesses an iteration of one of my real-world skills. Bindi alters clothing to suit her eclectic taste (though I never sold mine on Etsy like she does), and Margarita has a black belt in jujitsu (though I never taught my own classes).
We all know how important it is for writers to read. Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you?
I don’t always have to make my own mistakes to comprehend the negative consequences; I can see others trying something that doesn’t work out and vow on the spot to try my best to avoid what happened to them. BASE jumping, eating squid, getting a tramp stamp, all never done by me thanks to the experiences of others. So I’ll confess that when I read a book and find its writing lacking, that motivates me to figure out specifically what isn’t working for me as a reader, and to avoid doing that in a book of my own. Like the saying about unhappy families each being unhappy in their own way, bad books are all bad for different reasons. It’s harder to see how to improve when one only looks at perfectly edited works.
Do you have a target reader?
My dual audience consists of cozy mystery readers and geocachers. For years, I’ve wanted to read a book about my own hobby, but there weren’t any. After I started writing some (as have other authors), I’ve gotten several comments on how glad other geocachers are to have such a book as well.
Do you have a writing process? If so can you please describe it?
I average between 3,000 and 4,000 words a day, six days a week, until my story is done. I’d write far more if I could, but I’ve learned the hard way that my tendinitis won’t tolerate more than a day or two of 8,000-word output before I have to stop for four days. In the long run it’s more efficient to keep a rein on my daily word count so I can finish without wanting to chop my arms off.
Do you outline? If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences?
I’m an extensive outliner. I make a Snowflake for every novel. Part of the reason for the intense planning is to make sure I have a good handle on who my characters are—their personalities and motivations, etc.—but the original driving cause behind switching to outlines instead of SOP (seat-of-pants) writing is that my creativity will do its best to toss multiple monkey wrenches in my plot. If I haven’t come up ahead of time with a good reason why Bindi needs to head out into the woods alone, then she’ll do something else, and my plot gets derailed.
Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished?
My rough draft mantra is: Write, or write not. There is no edit.
Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, what gets the fingers tapping?
I always have some music going when I write. It helps keep me under the spell of my story. With my outlining, I generally know all the plot twists ahead of time, so sitting in a chair and writing tens of thousands of words is really boring. I can’t listen to anything with lyrics (in English), so I’m always looking for new soundtracks or compilations. Among my favorites: Sherlock, Doctor Who, and the latest Three Musketeers.
Did you submit your work to Agents?
No. I’m still not sure they need to exist, rather like jeans sweat pants and artificial black holes.
What made you decide to go Indie, whether self-publishing or with an indie publisher? Was it a particular event or a gradual process?
I had a negative experience with a small press. Only RAP’s dedication to the arts of editing convinced me to give them a shot.
Did you get your book cover professionally done or did it you do it yourself?
RAP arranged for my cover with Streetlight Graphics. I adore it!
Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it?
I’ve got a publicist at RAP who worries about what to wing. Which is excellent, because I’m a total, complete introvert, as so many authors are. The stories in our heads are just more interesting than the real world.
Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors?
You can become an indie author for free. But I don’t recommend it. Pay for good editing. Pay for a catchy cover. The jump in sales and the glowing reviews will be worth it. And write more books! Readers can’t buy what you haven’t written.
Where did you grow up?
Mostly in wine valleys, for some odd reason. I lived in the Napa Valley and the Willamette Valley as a kid.
Where do you live now?
Now I live…wait for it…in another wine valley: the Walla Walla Valley. Of all the years I’ve lived, only six have been in places not known for growing wine grapes. Just one of those weird coincidences, because I don’t drink wine. It would make way more sense if I did, right? Might explain some of my odder plot twists, but no, that’s just my brain on too much creativity.
What would you like readers to know about you?
Well, my latest fun fact is that I’ve got time-space synesthesia. You know how you think the way your brain works is normal, that everyone can do the things you can do, until suddenly, one day, you learn otherwise? Yeah, so apparently other people can’t always tell, to the minute, what time it is without looking at a clock, or set a timer for the oven and know to the second when it’s going to beep without watching it. Also, calendars. They’re always upside down and right to left in my head. You mean others don’t see it this way? Whaaaaat? Authors. We’re so quirky!
What are you working on now?
My current project is the third book in the series, with the working title of Trailing Death. As soon as it heads in to my publisher, I’m going to start on the fourth novel, Grandfathered Out.
End of Interview: