Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Mysterious Doings

As the  summer begins, it is time to start selecting those books we want to take on vacation or for sitting around the pool or at  the beach. Today's guest in My Writing Corner has a new offering that sounds like a perfect choice for that summer reading.  My guest today is Joyce Sanderly.

She is a Pushcart nominated poet and an attorney. Joyce retired as a Senior Counsel at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Her poetry (written under Ellen Sazzman) has been published in numerous journals, and her poetry collection, The Shomer, was selected as a finalist for the Blue Lynx Prize, a semifinalist for the Elixir Press Antivenom Award and the Codhill Press Poetry Award. She has lived in Washington, D.C. and Montgomery County, Maryland for the last forty years where she raised her family and practiced law for the federal government.

Joyce, what is the challenging part of being an author?


I find formulating plots for a full length work of fiction to be challenging. I am a big fan of a

number of mystery authors: Laura Lippman, Megan Abbott, Tana French (Irish), Jane Harper

(Australian) and Lianne Moriarty (also Australian). These writers explore the multi-faceted

relationships among family, friends, lovers, and enemies. Their novels delve into the

psychological impetus behind their characters’ crimes. I find the interplay among characters and

their motivations for crossing over the legal line to be fascinating. I have attempted to follow in

the footsteps of these authors in crafting a story that explores the interlocking dynamics that exist within an interfaith marriage, a family, a friendship and the politics of religious institutions. However, the complexities of these relationships has to be balanced against the pacing of the plot so that the reader is compelled to keep turning the page. The plot also must be realistic enough to be believable – at least with some small leaps of imagination – but not so realistic as to become boring. Finally, I find writing fiction requires discipline. Time must be devoted to research, writing, and revising.


Tell us about your road to publication.


Ever since I was a young girl, I have wanted to write fiction and poetry. Given the economic

necessities of life and my parents’ limited resources, I realized I had to pursue a profession that would enable me to support myself and my family. I practiced law for the federal government for many years and raised my family in the Washington, D.C. area. But when my sons began to pursue their independent interests, I began to pursue my own passion to write poetry and fiction. My publisher for Wild Irish Yenta is The Wild Rose Press (TWRP). A writing friend suggested I send my manuscript to TWRP because the press was supportive of women writers and was open to a wide variety of genres. My novel is a cross between a domestic romance and a cozy mystery with a bit of humor and comparative religion. The book does not fit easily within a genre category, but I was hoping TWRP would be interested. The editor who read my initial submission was very supportive and gave helpful guidance. The submission process was smooth. My novel was released a bit more than a year after submission.


What is the book you are featuring today and what gave you the inspiration to write it?


The story for Wild Irish Yenta began with a focus on the conflicts surrounding an interfaith

marriage. My own experience of the difficulty of finding clergy to officiate at my interfaith

marriage was the impetus. As the plot formed, I researched customs, doctrine and biblical

interpretations of Christianity, Judaism and Islam. I researched how evidence is used to track

leads, interview witnesses, and rule out suspects. I also researched aspects of securities law and

criminal law related to the plot of Wild Irish Yenta.


Set against a backdrop of a suburban Maryland synagogue, Wild Irish Yenta dishes on interfaith

marriage, misbehaving clergy, Biblical myth, and the beauty of religious traditions. When the

body of custodian Roberto Gomez is found in Temple Israel’s parking lot, Patricia Weiss, nee

Reilly, exchanges her suburban-mom sneakers for gumshoes to investigate the hit-and-run. An

ardent new convert to Judaism, Patricia is grappling with her outsider status at the upscale

Reform congregation. For Roberto, the stakes had been much higher. He was struggling to be

adopted by a new country and learn a new language. Inspired by her detective dad, Patricia is

compelled to find out who-dun-it and why. 


Before she progresses with her investigation or with problems in her difficult marriage to a busy cardiologist and his Jewish mother, she is plunged deeper into the Temple’s troubles. Her mentor Rabbi Deborah disappears after delivering a controversial sermon in support of interfaith marriage. Against her husband’s wishes, Patricia, with toddler Danny and buddy Brenda in tow, designates herself as the yenta patrol to unravel the mysteries. 


The novel takes a wry look at marriage, insular suburban cliques, and the politics of religious

institutions. While poking fun at cultural stereotypes, the novel interweaves biblical stories with

questions of contemporary concern. Can a nice Catholic girl find happiness with a Jewish

cardiologist even if she converts? Can Patricia’s yenta patrol detect a connection between a

custodian’s death and other troubling happenings at the Temple?


Let's get a blurb:


Do killers, stock manipulators, and kidnappers stalk the Temple?

After the body of Roberto Gomez is discovered in Temple Israel's parking lot, Patricia Weiss, nee Reilly, exchanges her suburban-mom sneakers for gumshoes to investigate the supposed hit-and-run.


Inspired by her police detective dad, Patricia feels compelled to uncover who killed the hardworking custodian and why. Before she can progress with her investigation or work on problems in her difficult marriage to a busy cardiologist, and his controlling Jewish mother, she is plunged into the Temple's troubles. Her mentor Rabbi Deborah, who has guided Patricia through her own recent conversion to Judaism, disappears after delivering a controversial sermon in support of interfaith marriage. Despite her husband's concerns, Patricia joins forces with her buddy Brenda. Designating themselves The Yenta Patrol, they unravel the mysteries.



Let's chat with the heroine of Wild Irish Yenta, Patricia:


Tell us a bit about yourself and the title of the book?


Wild Irish Yenta, yes, that’s me, Mrs. Patricia (nee Reilly) Weiss, wife of a Jewish cardiologist

and daughter of good Catholic parents. My Italian-American mother is a nurse and a dynamite

cook. I followed my mother’s path into nursing. Unfortunately I did not inherit her culinary gene, much to the dismay of my foodie husband and my adorable four-year-old son. My Irish-American dad was a detective in the Randolph, Massachusetts police force and I did inherit his love of solving crimes and puzzles.


My addictive attraction to puzzling is one of the reasons I was compelled to investigate the

mysterious death of Roberto Gomez, the custodian at my family’s temple in suburban Maryland.

His body was found in the temple’s parking lot squashed against a garbage bin. I had been

tutoring Roberto with his English language skills. Roberto was struggling to be adopted by a new country, learn a new language, and hold down a job to support his family. I felt a kinship with him. I, too, felt like an outsider. As a recent convert to Judaism, I was trying to gain acceptance into the Jewish faith, the temple, and my husband’s family (especially my mother-in-law). In spite of my overly cautious doctor-husband’s wishes, my temple buddy Brenda and I designated ourselves the Yenta Patrol to unravel the mystery.


What is a yenta you may ask. As with most Yiddish words, there is no precise English

equivalent. My buddy Brenda defines yenta as a wise and knowledgeable female who distributes

essential information to parties who have a need to know, kind of like an analog version of social

media. A less complimentary definition of the term yenta might be “busybody.” In any event

Brenda and I made a great detecting team, and we had good intentions at heart.


What made you choose nursing as a profession/career?


I was encouraged to follow my mother into nursing. My mother managed to take good care of

both her patients and her family. She cooked amazing meals – lasagna and peach pie – and made

sure she was home while my father worked long and unpredictable hours. I followed my

mother’s nursing path in hopes that I could simultaneously pursue a caring profession and raise a

family. Although other women of my generation were going into law and medicine, none seemed to live in Randolph. I enjoyed my nursing responsibilities in the hospital. Plus I met my handsome husband when he was a resident in cardiology at the hospital. But when my son Danny was born, I decided to be a full-time mom. My husband was just establishing his cardiology practice in Maryland, and I wanted to ensure I was available to give Danny hugs and meet his needs.


In retrospect, I might have chosen differently. If I had been a boy I might have followed my

father into the police force and become a detective. However, a detective can be put in

compromising situations where she has to intimidate witnesses and bend the truth to obtain the

truth. It’s not like being a firefighter. No one is happy to see a detective on the doorstep with a

search warrant. In an ideal world with unlimited resources of time and money, I think I would

have pursued a medical career. Perhaps I would have become an infectious disease doc or a

pathologist who unraveled medical mysteries. In any event, I am going to encourage my son (and hopefully more children to come) to follow his heart and mind when choosing a career.


What is your biggest fear?


My biggest fear is not being the best mother I can be for Danny, my four-year-old son. He is

such a smart, sweet child. He shares with friends and asks lots of questions. I want to encourage

him to be curious, to try new things, but I don’t want to pressure him or stress him out. I wish I

could ensure him a happy life, but I know that is impossible. He will have to face many

challenges by himself. I can only provide a safe and loving environment and give him as many

opportunities as possible. I wish I knew when to protect and when to pull back. My parents were

good parents but they were very traditional, and I was raised in a different era. The world has

become a much complicated place, what with social media, global warming, and pandemics. I

hope I can raise Danny to be a caring person and to have the tools he needs to make fulfilling

Choices.


What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?


The best recent pieces of advice I have received come from my mentor Rabbi Deborah who

guided me through the conversion process and from my buddy Brenda. Rabbi Deborah has

convinced me that I need to be more accepting of my husband’s behavior, my mother-in-law’s

behavior, and my own behavior. No one is perfect, and I need to learn to be more forgiving of all

of our flaws. At the same time, Rabbi Deborah has emphasized that I should not give up on

pursuing my own interests outside of the family. Rabbi Deborah has also emphasized that a

married couple must be loving and beloved friends, passionate partners for life. Brenda, the most

experienced spouse of the three of us, has made clear that marriage is a 50/50 proposition – both

partners must share the responsibilities and the fun times equally.


Thank you, Patricia.  Now let's go back and see what our author, Joyce is working on for her next project. 

I am taking a breather from novel writing for a few months and concentrating on poetry. My

debut poetry collection The Shomer (written under Ellen Sazzman) came out two years ago, and I have had poems published recently in Clackamas Review, Atlanta Review, Folio, Peregrine,

Delmarva Review, Another Chicago Magazine, Sow’s Ear, and Lilith, among others. However I

already have a crime in mind awaiting the sleuthing skills of Patricia and Brenda. I plan to write

Wild Irish Yenta Returns in the near future.


Do have any advice for beginning writers?


Perhaps every writer feels like a beginner at the start of each new project. So my advice should

be taken “with a grain of salt.” First I think an author needs to find a topic that is of interest to

herself as motivation to keep going with the project. Second I suggest an author plow ahead and

try to finish a complete draft so as not to get stuck on perfecting individual chapters. What is that

saying – perfection is the enemy of good progress? Third I found belonging to a writers group

whose members give honest feedback was very helpful in crafting a final draft. Finally I try to

dedicate morning hours to writing projects and to delay phone calls and social engagements until

later in the day when I am less productive. (Unfortunately I have been less successful ignoring

those endlessly seductive emails.) I am convinced everyone has a story to tell. It’s just a matter

of sitting down to write it.


Here are the buy links as well as information on how to get in touch with Joyce.


Buy links:


Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Wild-Irish-Yenta-Joyce-Sanderly-

ebook/dp/B0CVXW6H8K

Barnes and Noble:   https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/wild-irish-yenta-joyce-

anderly/1144882468

Bookshop: https://bookshop.org/book/9781509250936


To learn more about Joyce Sanderly and her writing go to:


www.joycesanderly.com

https://www.facebook.com/JoyceSanderly.author/


Thank you, Joyce, for being my guest today. Any questions or comments for Joyce?

Tuesday, June 4, 2024

A Visit to The Dark Side

Authors always seem to have great stories to tell about how and why they become authors.  Today's guest in
My Writing Corner has a great story of her own. My guest today is Mystery and Suspense author Cynthia Rice. She is also a physician. Cynthia lives in the Milwaukee area and is a proud member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. Her debut novel, The Last Broken Girl, a psychological suspense and winner of the 2023 Claymore Award, is set in rural Wisconsin, where she has strong ties. When she's not working on her next novel, Cynthia says she keeps busy reading, traveling, and playing mediocre tennis and golf. She lives with her two cats Clarice (not named for Silence of the Lambs) and Porkchop.


Cynthia, what do you find is the most challenging part of being an author?

 

For me, the most challenging part of being an author is maintaining a disciplined writing schedule. I recently retired which has made it easier, but even now it’s hard to carve out time for writing and revision every day. I tend to go in spurts, weeks where I buckle down and accomplish a lot, and days where life intervenes. My best writing time is late morning.


How do you come up with your plots?

 

I’m constantly on the lookout for plot ideas. There are so many true crime reports in the news every day that can be twisted and expanded into a plot. Some of these won’t support a novel but work for a short story. Sometimes a location/setting sets off a series of “what if” questions. Listening to conversations in restaurants or on the train if you commute can trigger an idea. I carry a small notebook everywhere and make notes about interesting people or situations.

 

 Tell us about your road to publication.

 

I worked on The Last Broken Girl for approximately three years before I started querying. I used a developmental editor which was extremely helpful. I started querying agents initially and received requests for full or partial manuscripts but no offers. I then started querying small traditional publishers, many which do not require an agent. I had full requests and fortunately a contract to publish within a few months.

 

What is your book that you will feature today and how did you come up with the idea to write it?

 

The book I’m featuring today is my debut novel, The Last Broken Girl, a psychological suspense published by The Wild Rose Press with a release date of June 3rd, 2024. The novel explores the potential dark side of small-town living, which can offer its victims no escape. The protagonist, Eric Moore, is a psychologist whose own rigidly structured life goes into a tailspin when the man who kidnapped her when she was fourteen is paroled early back into the community where she lives with her young daughters. In the plotting of the novel, I wanted Erin’s backstory to include a major traumatic experience which she survived, but which has had a lasting impact on her personality and life choices. The kidnapping fit the bill.


Let's get a blurb and some book reviews:


In a small town in Wisconsin, safety had always been an illusion. Especially for Erin Moore, who had been kidnapped as a teenager and held for months, when she learns her abductor is up for parole. The police always believed her captor acted alone, and that the female accomplice Erin described years ago was the fabrication of a traumatized mind.


Twenty years later, Erin leads a rigidly structured life with her husband and two young daughters and has a successful psychology practice in the same small town. When her abductor is paroled early and goes missing, leaving behind a large pool of blood, Erin and her husband become prime suspects. Erin receives threatening notes she is certain came from the accomplice, but she is unable to convince the police the menace is real.

As Erin watches her life unravel, including her marriage, career and possibly her sanity, she knows the only way out is to bring the accomplice to justice, even if it’s twenty years late.


Reviews:


“Rice has written a masterful debut thriller with a fantastic hero in Erin, who leaps off the page with her bravery and relatability… For those who enjoy thrillers about strong women who face impossible odds, this is a terrific read. An exhilarating page-turner showcases this debut author’s talent for suspense.”
Kirkus Reviews

“A survivor. Her imprisoned captor. An early release. Game on. When you get to the denouement, your pulse will quicken, guaranteed. And you thought zero bars on a cellphone made you uneasy before? Just wait. Two thumbs up for The Last Broken Girl.”
—Tracy Clark, author of the Cass Raines and Det. Harriet Foster series

“A riveting psychological mystery with a complex, multifaceted protagonist.”
Independent Book Review


What’s your next project or what are you working on now?

 

I’m in the final edit stage of a mystery novel, still untitled, and is the start of a potential series. It takes place in a popular resort area in Wisconsin, Door County, and involves the disappearance of young woman. I’ve also been writing some short stories intermittently.

 

What advice do you have for beginning writers?

 

I would advise new writers to prioritize finding a community of other writers. Writing is a  solitary endeavor by its very nature, and finding the camaraderie and support of other writers through local or on-line writers’ groups is very helpful. I belong to Mystery Writers of America, International Thrillers Writers, and Sisters in Crime, who offer many learning opportunities through workshops and conferences.

 

To quote Neil Gaiman, “Everything good that happened in my writing career happened because someone, normally another writer, helped me. Suggested me for something, put in a good word, and so on. The idea was always that you help others and they help others in turn. It’s not a win or lose game.”


Here are Cynthia's Buy Links and social media information:


Bookshop:  https://bookshop.org/p/books/the-last-broken-girl-cynthia-rice/21350408?ean=9781509255399


Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/1509255397


Barnes & Noble:  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-last-broken-girl-cynthia-rice/1145051975


Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-last-broken-girl/id6479898404?ign-itscg=30200&ign-itsct=books_box_link


Social Contacts:

Twitter:        https://x.com/CynthiaRice22

Instagram:   https://www.instagram.com/cynthiarice.author/

Website:     https://cynthiaarice.com

Email:        cynthiarice.author@gmail.com

Buy Link:   https://mybook.to/CynthiaRice


Thank you, Cynthia, for being my guest today. Any questions or comments for Cynthia?

Mysterious Doings

As the  summer begins, it is time to start selecting those books we want to take on vacation or for sitting around the pool or at  the beach...