Last year I had the honor of being asked to join a group of authors devoted to improving and promoting fellow authors. As things can happen, after many months, this group evolved into The Underground Authors, publishing an anthology of short mystery stories: Beyond the Sea, Stories from the Underground. https://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Sea-Underground-Charles-Breakfield-ebook/dp/B093DRG1ZK/
We had such fun we decided on a much larger undertaking: nine full-length novels set in a small Texas hill town we named Magnolia Bluff. Within this town, we’ve written our own characters and plot lines so each book intertwines Magnolia Bluff with some of our individual characters giving a really cool cohesiveness to the series. With that said, this book is dedicated to my fellow authors, CW Hawes, Caleb Pirtle, James Callan, Linda Pirtle, Grace Marshall, Richard Schwindt, Charles Breakfield, Roxanne Burkey, Mike Clifton, Jinx Schwartz.
What makes your stories unique?
I would have to say the characters I create. I try to take a character that we all might recognize, and then give them something … unique, something that sets them apart from the people we know. And I want that “something” to become a key element in the plot.
If you met one of your characters in person, who would it be, and what would you ask?
Perhaps Crystal from the Crystal Moore Suspense books. I would want to know how a candidate for a Ph.D. in Information Retrieval winds up in the jungles of Mexico trying to rescue two young girls she has never met. I’d also like to know how she captured a professional hit man, subduing him with her head.
Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way?
Author Dick Francis, by example, encouraged me to write paragraphs that flow smoothly. Also, in each of his books, he exposed me to something I did not know. I try to do that in my books, and sometimes I succeed.
What is your secret guilty pleasure?
I’m afraid all my guilty pleasures are well known.
They say ‘write what you know’. But do you reach a point where research is needed?
Absolutely. In fact, I think that axiom should be “Write what you know - or can learn.” I think every book I write causes me to stop writing and enter a research mode. It could be researching obscure poisons, or information on powered parachutes, or the Texas Rangers. Whatever I deal with in a book, I want it to be accurate. Generally that means I must learn a lot more about the subject than will appear in the book. But what I learn will influence how I present things to the reader.
How do your family and/or friends feel about your books?
I believe I can say with certainty that family and friends are all very supportive of my books, read them (some even buy the books!) and like the books. Sometimes they have some questions. And always, they ask when the next book will be available.
How do you choose the books you read? By genre? By author?
What advice would you give a new author?
Read good authors. Write often. Don’t be afraid to throw away something you’ve written. Then, write it better.
How do you feel about rewrites? Describe your process after the first draft is complete.
When the first draft is finished, I like to put it aside for a few weeks. Ignore its call. Resist the impulse to “fix it.” Then, when I go back to it, I have fresh eyes for this story. It will look very different to me. I will be seeing it like a new reader sees it, not someone who has lived with it for months. Now I am able to improve it.
What project are you working on next?
I’m trying to clear some of the trees in our forest that have died and … Oops. You probably meant what writing project was in the works. Sorry. The next book will be a Crystal Moore Suspense book. My last two books have been Father Frank mysteries. Crystal probably thinks I’ve abandoned her. Not true. She’s up next.
On day one of Father Frank’s first vacation in four years, a man says to him, “I’m gonna kill you.”
Then suddenly, the threat of violence includes another person. Now, Father Frank knows something must be done. But since the threat came via the confessional, he can’t tell the police. He can’t even tell the other person who is in danger. Father Frank is pretty much on his own.
And to make matters worse, all this happens in Magnolia Bluff, a beautiful Texas Hill Country town, but a place Father Frank has just come to visit. He doesn’t know the people; he doesn’t know the town, and he certainly doesn’t have a clue who is issuing the threat.
His vacation hasn’t started well, and if he can’t stop this man from killing, it will end suddenly - and much worse.
Meet Bliss as she answers some direct questions.
Where are you from? You avoid the topic in the book. As people like to note, I’m from ‘out east’.
What happened to drive you from a comfortable home? People kept directing where my life was going, pushing for a degree, the nine-to-five commitment, marriage, two point five grandchildren. Some people take forty years to figure out who they are—I think it’s called a mid-life crisis. Well, I wanted to save all that time and find me now. So I took off.
You didn’t tell anyone? I hinted a few times. Nobody picked up on it. Funny though. For a while after I left, I watched papers and news. Not a single missing person report. That told me I did the right thing.
So you just drove around? Alone? I never planned a route, just went where it felt right at the moment.
And you live outdoors. You know it gives the impression you’re homeless, right? First, I don’t care what people think about me. Their impressions are just that—theirs. Second, I’m not a chatty person. I cannot sit around making small talk. Nice weather we’re having. Where are you from? What’s your sign? Not for me. I enjoy my own company. I know that sounds egotistical, but really, I’m happy just being alive. Third, what is better than communing with nature? People go on vacation and marvel at the sunrises and sunsets. Well, I get to see them every single day. What can be better than that?
How long do you plan to be on the road? When will you settle down? You sound like my family. I’ll know when it’s time. It could be a month; it could be a couple of years. How does a person ‘find’ themself? What situations have to occur where you suddenly understand why you were born, what you were meant to do? It’s not something you can put into a schedule.
How did you come upon the town of Magnolia Bluff? It’s not exactly a major metropolis on a main highway. Like I said, I let the road take me. Besides, my motorcycle broke down. Am I sorry about that? No. I’ve met some down-to-earth people who treat me like family.
And kill each other. Hmm. Yes.
Can lyrics from Jimmy Buffett’s songs help Bliss solve a month-old murder?
The Texas hill town of Magnolia Bluff looms as a mere distraction for Bliss Jager when the new-to-her motorcycle breaks down under a banner publicizing the annual persimmon festival. Her other thought at the time: What in the world is a persimmon?
Only in town an hour, she’s offered pizza-for-life and a job at Doyle’s General Store. The job comes with two perks: a yellow throat toucan, which is odd enough, but add to that the ghost of Merrick Doyle and life takes a vociferously strange turn. The fatherly man is friendly and much loved, and related to most everyone in town. Trouble is, he’s been dead a month. Townspeople think he died of natural causes but he insists he was murdered.
Can Bliss expose the killer before people find out she’s been getting clues from a ghost, and um…a toucan? More important, can she find the killer before the killer finds her?
Secrets, gossip, and a murder that could reveal all.Harry Thurgood just wants a quiet life, and to leave his past in the past. And he thinks he’s found the perfect place in sleepy Magnolia bluff, Texas. Until the murder of a prominent citizen threatens to let the skeletons out of his closet.Quiet and unassuming, the Reverend Ember Cole wants nothing more than to be a good pastor to her congregation. And when her friendship with Harry threatens her job, she has to choose between friendship and the church.However, when the murder is pinned on Ember, Harry decides he and Ember have to find the real killer to keep Ember out of jail and Harry’s past in the past.But when Harry and Ember are almost killed in a hit and run, they realize the killer will stop at nothing to avoid being found. Even if he has to kill again.Death Wears a Crimson Hat by CW Hawes is the first book in the new multi-author crime series: The Magnolia Bluff Crime Chronicles. Each book in the series will be written by one of The Underground Authors and will feature action, suspense, humor, and, of course, murder.Get in on the action today, and see if you can solve the mystery!
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