Amateur Sleuth Series Starts With Bobby’s Diner

bobbysdiner_4p125x7I recently had the pleasure of reading Susan Wingate’s Bobby’s Diner, the winner of several finalist awards, including the 2010 International Book Awards. The book was first picked up and published by Cambridge Books in Cambridge, Mass., and later, after regaining the rights, Susan released it herself. Book 2 in the amateur sleuth series, Hotter than Helen, was released last week and Book 3, Sacrifice at Sea, will be released later this summer.

Susan, tell us what inspired you to write Bobby’s Diner. Was this your first book?

This was my second novel. It came to me in a dream which started this series. The dream sequence is the one you’ve read where Georgette Carlisle, the main character, hitches a ride with a scoundrel of a trucker to the place where she finds the restaurant Bobby’s Diner and where she ultimately plants her life.

Are the characters or any of the incidents based on real life?

Only the Bobby character but, as you know, when the story begins, Bobby has already died. Bobby was the love of Georgette Carlisle’s life.

What was the insight you gained from writing the book and hope your readers will understand?

That a sense of family can be found with anyone you choose to give love to and from whom you receive love. That’s the greater premise of this book.

HotterThanHelen-FrontOnly-BookCoverWhy did you decide to self-publish?

After being published and realizing how little marketing effort publishers tend to give to their books and being slightly disenchanted by this fact, I went solo. Marketing is the thing that will sell books in a world that is glutted with great books. So, with my business background intact and my living as a writer at stake, I decided to self-publish. And, boy oh boy, am I glad I did. Not only did the book win three separate finalist awards, Bobby’s Diner also reached several Amazon Best Seller spots and has gotten as high in the rankings as number two.

Did you do much rewriting for this reissue?

Of course. Authors are freaky that way. If we get another chance to edit or add or subtract, we will.

How was the process different the second time around?

Well, when your book is with a publishing house, you have little (and sometimes no) control over the finished product. I once had an editor edit out an entire meaning because of “fixing” one word. They destroyed the passage and weakened the story because of their “fix.” But, it’s a trade-off when you get picked up by a publishing house because having someone accept your work adds credibility to you as an author far beyond what a self-publisher will receive. Is the trade-off worth it? Hmm, not sure. When my self-published works sell and I get those royalty checks, I’m pretty darned happy. Conversely, when my work is published by a press I get a sense of approval, readers get a sense of credibility about my work. I suppose that’s good at the outset but if the story isn’t selling because the publisher is not pushing the book, then, is it worth the representation of having a publisher? Ultimately, it’s each writer’s choice.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Well, I’ve written all of my life and my output proliferated around 1995. But late in 1997 is Sacrifice at Seawhen I considered myself a writer, while on my way to my home where I live now. I had to drive nearly 2,000 miles to get here. On that road trip, I developed an outline for my first novel. And, the reason this was the point I considered myself a writer is because I stuck with the story and saw it through to its completion. Only a true writer can finish a novel. Writers who only dabble and don’t finish novels they’ve started are not truly committed to writing. If they were, they would learn how to finish their novel. With any craft an artist must go through the work of learning technique and structure. Writing a short story or a novel means understanding the structure of each.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Well, I actually had a mentor and that was Michael Collins. He’s an international bestselling author and two of his titles are Death of a Writer and Keepers of Truth (which was shortlisted for the 2000 Man-Booker Award).

Your other books include Spider Brains, a quirky Young Adult novel; Drowning, a tale of redemption; and a gritty “Chandleresque” novel, Of the Law. What has motivated you to write in so many different styles?

Isn’t that the million-dollar question! LOL. Stories come to me and not all of them land within one single genre. I love storytelling, therefore I write the story that strikes me most at any given time, one that stays with me, one with a logical flow and the one with a profound ending.

Do you have a favorite genre or book you’ve written?

Not really although I seem to find my list of books falling more toward women’s fiction than other genres. However, my favorite book is always the one I’m currently writing.

What is your current project?

Well, that was a nice segue! The working title of novel number thirteen is called Way of the Wild Wood. This story is about a girl named Meg Nightly whose mother has recently died and who now lives alone with her sad and abusive father. In Meg’s grief she ends up getting lost in the woods near their home. I love this story. I’m also writing to a collaborative novel but for now “Way of the Wild Wood” has me enchanted.


SUSAN WINGATE’s poem “The Dance of Wind in Trees” was published in the April 2013 issue of the Virginia Quarterly Review. Susan’s award-winning, Amazon best seller, Drowning, is now available in audio book version. Susan’s three-Book “Susie Speider” YA Fiction Series is available through her publisher Astraea Press, on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. In 2012, two of Susan’s books made it onto the Top 10 Amazon Best Seller list twice. Drowning, (Susan’s contemporary women’s fiction) won 1st place in the 2011 Forward National Literature Award for the category of Drama. Drowning also won a finalist award for the category of Women’s Fiction/Chick Lit in the 2011 International Book Awards and reached #1 on the Amazon’s Best Seller list.

A vibrant public speaker, Susan offers inspiring, motivational talks about the craft of writing, publishing and marketing, and how to survive this extremely volatile ePublishing industry. She presents lectures and workshops at writing conferences, libraries and book stores around the country. She also loves to visit with book clubs for more intimate chats.

Shaking and Rocking to Relax the Writer and Reader

dervish 1by Amber Polo

All writers and readers know sitting can be  unhealthy. Yet there are times strenuous exercise is not possible. Shaking is a gentle exercise that works to wake up the copy and focus the mind – without moving too far from your desk or chair.


Ancient wisdom embodies ecstatic shaking as the oldest medicine. Kalahari Bushman, Quakers, Shakers, Japanese seiki jutsu, Native American shakers of the Pacific Northwest, and many pow-wow dancers use shaking for healing and shamanic experience.

Many traditions use frenzied ecstasy as a prelude to a deep state of relaxation. Not to be confused with St. Vitus Dance or mass hysteria, remnants of ecstatic shaking remain in divers music and spiritual traditions; jazz, blues, rock and roll, and gospel as well as ancient ethnic circle dances, kundalini yoga, and qigong.

Gentle or energetic shaking loosens the joints of the body, breaks up physical and mental stagnation, and opens energy channels. Shaking allows you to let go (and look very silly) while banishing stiffness and shaking off emotional knots. Bradford Keeney, author of Shaking Medicine experienced what he calls enriched intuition from shaking.

How To Do It

Start by imagining you’re Pinocchio and a kindly Geppetto is pulling your strings. Stand, feet apart, eyes closed or almost closed. Soften the knees. Exhale and begin. Try to feel the shaking originating in the belly. Let the breath deepen. Move and wiggle all your parts as if you had no bones. Shake for at least 5 minutes daily for a few days to see if it works for you.
Shaking can be a warm-up, a quick break, or a practice in itself. Laraine Herring, in The Writing Warrior, calls shaking an “energetic flush” for the body and “internal meditation” for the mind. She offers instructions and a YouTube video to introduce writers to the practice of shaking.

Literary Side Trip A famous member the Sufi dervish cult known for ecstatic dance, the 13th century poet Rumi, was recently called the most popular poet in America.


Like shaking, rocking the body  connects you  to your primal soul. Old-fashioned rocking chairs, swings, and gliders come back in vogue because they make people feel good. Add a rocking chair to your office. Rock, breathe, and relax.

Soothing Rocking Exercise – Sit erect close to the front of a firm chair with your feet on the floor. Close your eyes and, keeping hips evenly on chair, rock back and forth slowly and rhythmically in sync with your breath. If you like, wrap your arms around your body.

Literary Side Trip – Contrary to popular legend, Ben Franklin did not invent the rocking chair, though he did come up with three clever devices to benefit writers: bifocals, the cozy Franklin stove, and the wooden pole with a claw to remove books from high shelves.

Excerpts from Relaxing the WriterRelaxing-Cover-300px-h-optimized

Find more suggestions in Relaxing the Writer


  Learn More about Shaking as a Practice for writers…

 Listen to Laraine Herring talk more about shaking on this video

 And a demonstration
Laraine somehow convinced her husband
to demonstrate how to shake –

Link to Relaxation Books & CDs on my website
Amber-with-dog-small_edited-13Bio Amber Polo
A love of books drew Amber Polo into a career as a librarian. A greater love turned her into a writer. The Shapeshifters’ Library series is an urban fantasy filled with books, librarians and dogs and a library everyone will love.

In addition to her two award-winning romance novels, she self-published Relaxing the Writer: Guidebook to the Writer’s High which offers hundreds of tips to help writers and readers relax and is proud of her self-produced, Relaxation One Breath at a Time, a CD that uses her voice to teach relaxation to calm your body and mind and/or help you fall asleep.

Words for Writers

Here is a list of some important and interesting words for writers to think about, know and use. Have fun!

ACTION:  Action and plot grow out of compelling, interesting characters.  Suspense, action, and conflict are what keep the reader interested.  Action is presenting the real life evidence through characters, by showing, not telling the story.

BEATS: Beats can be the little bits of action interspersed through a scene, especially in dialogue. For example:

“I don’t even want to go there,” I said.

He laid a hand on my arm. “You want me to drive?”

CONSONANCE:  Is the close repetition of the same consonants of stressed syllables, especially at the end of words, with differing vowel sounds.  Example: Boat and Night.Ear

DISSONANCE: Is a mingling or union of harsh, inharmonious sounds that are grating to the ear.  Often used to create a disturbing or tumultuous atmosphere or confusion or bewilderment in poetry.

EUPHONY:  Is the harmony or beauty of a sound that provides a pleasing effect to the ear.  It is achieved not only by the selection of individual word sounds, but also by their relationship in the repetition, proximity, and flow of sound patterns.

FLASHBACK: A window to your character’s past.  A flashback gives you a way to “show” your character’s past through a scene without “telling” the story through narration.  Be very careful in using these so it doesn’t “bump” the reader out of the action & story flow while you are explaining what happened sometime in the past. It can be passive. Keep it very brief and try to use a sense to trigger the memory, e.g. a smell or a sound, etc.

HOMOPHONE:  Is a word that has the same in sound as another word, but different spelling and meaning.  (For example: Pair as in set of two, and pear as in edible fruit.)

METAPHOR:  An analogy between two objects or ideas when you say one item IS another. For example: “Then it was there alongside, the locomotive a sudden tornado, black, huge, screaming…”  A SIMILE is saying something is LIKE another: “The bird’s wings were blue as the sky.”

ONOMATOPOEIA:  Words that imitate sounds, or any word whose sound is suggestive of its meaning.  Using words like a musical instrument to create a specific sound. For example: the words “Splash” or “Plop.”

PARADOX:  Is a statement that contains seemingly contradictory elements or appears contradictory to common sense, yet can be true when viewed from another angle. A good character trait to experiment with.

STORY LINE:  The plot of a book, film, or dramatic work.

THEME:  An idea, point of view, or perception expressed as a phrase, proposition, or question.  The root or core of what is expressed.

VISION:  A mental image produced by imagination. How someone sees or conceives of something.  Discernment or perception; intelligent foresight. The mystical experience of seeing as if with the eyes of characters within your writing.

Published in: on May 17, 2013 at 6:17 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Adeline: A Story of Memories, Growth, and Life

Adeline coverI recently read and enjoyed Adeline, a small but moving book, almost a memoir, an essay on life and its narrow winding path, and growth in maturity and spirituality. I asked Mary Ann to talk about how this book came about.

by Mary Ann Hayes

The story of Adeline has been playing in my head for so many years, I can’t even say how long. It takes place at a mountain lake in Northern Idaho where I spent my summers growing up, exploring nature with my two sisters and four brothers. There was, and still is, something magical about the place: the old cabin my dad threw together with materials scavenged from buildings one step away from the wrecking ball, the giant evergreens towering everywhere, the massive mountain arms surrounding our small body of water.

Things happened there that have stayed with me my whole life. My brother Jim died of cancer and spent the final days at our lake. His death, the significance of losing him, is depicted in the character Beanie.

The old woman Adeline herself is who I’ve always hoped I would be by the end days of my life, a person who has learned the impact and necessity of love and forgiveness. A woman who is a combination of those who shaped my life and taught me to value what is real and honest and good.

The story of the mountain lion came from a night we had an unexpected visitor on the patio outside the cabin door. The terrifying screams of the huge cat are unforgettable yet absolutely wonderful at the same time.

The mountain stream is one we would follow way up and deep into the forest to check on our water line. It was and still is our water supply for the cabin.

The actual road leading to the lake is not treacherous, yet it is windy and narrow in places. It has always been a reminder to me that life is a narrow winding road we need to travel on with patience, alertness, and awareness.

The demon and the angel were from a reoccurring nightmare I had as a child. They battled for my soul and left headshotme sleepless many a night and for many years.

I began by listing the important things I knew needed to be included in the story such as the willows, the channel, the road, and of course the bridge. I let the character of Adeline stroll through my mind as she made her way from the start to the finish, listening, and then writing down her thoughts and memories. Her memories are, of course, the memories I have when I am there, especially now as I get older.

Once I had an outline down on paper, and I knew I’d left nothing of significant importance out, I couldn’t stop writing. It just flowed! I hope I can write another story like Adeline some day. It was a dream for me.

Finding a publisher was the trick. After careful research, I sent my manuscript to Tate Publishing and Enterprises. They are one of the largest Christian publishers in the country and although Adeline is not a religious story, it certainly is spiritual. It was a pleasure working with them.

Mary Ann Hayes lives on an island in Washington State with her husband of thirty-five years and  two dogs.

She says, “My passion for writing stems from a love for the English language. Words are amazing. They are strong and powerful and must be used with consideration. Words can make or break a life, the power in their use is so great. Naturally, a love of words leads me to be an avid reader. A good novel on a rainy day is like rich dark chocolate and a fresh cup of coffee.  It doesn’t get much better.”

Mary Ann has also written A Friend Like Frank, a contemporary women’s novel, a bit of a romantic comedy, which is available in paperback and as an e-book through Amazon, or autographed through her website,  She has a sequel due out soon, The Trouble with Tony.

32 Great Reasons to Read Good Book

by John Kremer

Here are 32 great reasons to read more books. Please share.Book pile_reading

To escape your normal life.

To travel to real destinations.

To explore new worlds.

To imagine more than you could on your own.

To understand something new.

To understand something old.

To connect with the author.

To connect with other readers.

Book and contentsTo dream a new life.

To compare dreams, realities, and in-between.

To laugh and enjoy.

To deepen your understanding and insight.

To know more than you could learn on your own.

To learn what you don’t know.

To learn what you do know.

To discover something extraordinary.

To meet incredible characters.

To build a larger vocabulary.

To cry after a great read.

To be entertained by a great story.

To relax with a great storyteller.

To stimulate thought.

To grow your spirit.

To find motivation to do more.

To go on a great adventure.

To learn how others live or have lived.

To expand your horizons.Giant notebook_pencil

To explore inner dimensions.

To educate yourself.

To inspire your own writing.

To learn how to change the world.

To discuss in a reading group.

To share a good book with your friends.

Published in: on May 3, 2013 at 6:03 am  Comments (7)  
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