It’s that time again, for another glimpse into my efforts at creativity. You might discover where a writer gets their ideas (Ha!) how easy it is to plot out your story, (Umm) or where and when a story takes place (Hmm). Or it could be none of the above. That’s part of the fun. As in the past, this month will include a bit of my efforts at writing, a glimpse at my latest project, an interview with another author and of course, music. For as Nietzsche said, “Without music, life would be a mistake”. With that in mind, let’s rock!
Somebody asked me recently about whether or not vulgarities belong in stories. I considered it for a second and said ‘It depends. Who your audience is can be major factor in that decision.’
I don’t write for kids or young adults. I’ve had many different jobs over the years, from truck driver to collections specialist, to restaurant manager to human resources professional to college professor and more. In most of those roles, I worked with adults. Many of them considered swearing or the use of vulgarities to be part of their common, everyday language. Everyone understood it. So it’s only natural for me to include some swearing in my stories.
There are times when a vulgarity is the perfect way to convey a mood, along with the dialogue. It also gives your readers some insight into the characters. Which can make them realistic to your readers.
In “The Wayward Path” Jefferson Chene has several meetings with a priest from his childhood and two Dominican nuns from a local Catholic school. These interactions keep Chene in line. Yet when he’s among his fellow detectives at a squad meeting, it’s natural for him to drop the occasional ‘F’ bomb.
Some writers prefer to refrain from using vulgarity. That’s their choice and I totally understand it. But it’s part of daily life for me. A recent conversation comes to mind, with a woman who is quite a bit younger than me, and she was swearing up a blue streak. Then she caught herself and blushed. “Hope I didn’t offend you,” she said.
All I could do was laugh and think of how Pappy Cantrell would have reacted. “Ain’t nuthin’ ah ain’t never heard afore.”
Work In Progress.
The Wild Rose Press, which has published the first two Chene mysteries, requested the full manuscript for “The Wayward Path”. Now I’m trying to keep busy, working on another project while the editor reviews it. Hopefully, they will enjoy it and want to add it to the catalog.
Meanwhile, the story line for Jamie Four continues to grow. The main plot and a subplot are developing. A crossover scene keeps gnawing at my brain, so that will be written soon. It may turn out that more than one character from the Chene series makes an appearance here. We’ll see how that goes.
Jamie can be very demanding.
However did authors connect with one another before the advent of social media? Over the years I’ve met many at art festivals and author events and through my publishers. I’ve also developed connections on several social media outlets. Which leads me to Michelle Hollstein, this month’s guest. To call her a prolific writer would be an understatement. The fact that she writes in several different genres just proves she’s likely to have written something that will appeal to you.
So let’s get to know Michelle.
Where are you from? I live in beautiful Oceanside, California with my two children and my two spoiled kitties. Before moving to San Diego County just over eleven years ago, I lived in the desert near Palm Springs for eleven years. My Aggie Underhill cozy mystery series mostly takes place in Palm Springs and my new Science Fiction/Horror series, Fatal Reaction, takes place in San Diego County. I have a lot of fun using both areas in my writing.
Any favorite hobbies? I love to paint with acrylics. My degree is in Art Studio with a concentration in painting. I also love to sing.
How long have you been writing? I’ve been writing for about 17 years. I was working as an administrative assistant and when work would get slow, I decided to write. Once I got started, I couldn’t stop.
Are you able to write full time or do
you also have a job/career? Unfortunately,
over the years, I’d been writing part time for fun around my work
schedule. In the future, I hope to be able
to write full time and make a career of it.
Is there a particular genre that you write?
The first book I’d written was Fantasy.
I was feeling inspired after reading Harry Potter. Since then I’ve written Fantasy, Science
Fiction/Horror, comedy, cozy mysteries, paranormal mysteries, erotica and
beginning painting books.
What is your favorite aspect or writing? Your least favorite? Writing is an escape from reality for me and I love it. My least favorite aspect of writing is editing.
What aspect of writing would you most like to improve on? My grammar. I have a habit of writing how I speak.
What have you learned the most from being in the writing business? There are going to be people that love your work and those that hate it. Unfortunately, you can’t make everyone happy. I believe that it’s important to write what you enjoy and try not to think of those people that won’t like it.
How did you decide on your story plot? A scene pops into my head and I go from there. I never have an outline or know where my book is going to go. I just have fun with the story and write whatever comes to mind.
Describe how this method works best for you. Outline or ‘seat of the pants’?
Always ‘Seat of the pants.” I love letting my imagination run wild and I’m always amazed when the story eventually comes together at the end.
Let’s take a closer look at one of the books. Here’s a bit about “Something’s Fishy” An Aggie Underhill Mystery.
Join Aggie as she flies with her best friend Betty to Palm Springs where a $200,000 fish is stolen, an actress is kidnapped, and a man is murdered. Naturally curious, Aggie can’t help getting involved. Despite numerous warnings from her daughter to mind her own business, Aggie takes matters into her own hands.
Aggie frowned. “I’d say this woman is what you’d call a neat freak. Look at the room; it’s immaculate except for the bed. So was the rest of the house. Spotless.”
“She’s right,” Lance said. “Tiffany makes her bed first thing every morning. Always. She does it as soon as she gets up. She doesn’t even have her coffee first. She’s a bit compulsive. Everything and everyone must always be perfect.”
Both Aggie and Sarah looked at Lance. Aggie raised an eyebrow at him. She’d detected a hint of bitterness.
Realizing the attention he’d drawn to himself, Lance felt he’d better explain and sighed. “Tiffany and I have been dating. It’s been an on-again, off-again sort of relationship.”
“I see,” Aggie said. “And what are you as of now?”
“We’re off again,” Lance said, and then stared down at his hands. “We had a little falling out.”
Aggie stared at him waiting for more of an explanation.
“That’s all,” Lance said, shrugging. He left the master bedroom and peered into the spare bedroom across the hall. It appeared to be untouched. He then pushed open the door to Tiffany’s office. Aggie and Sarah followed him.
“May I ask why you’re off again?” Aggie inquired.
“Mum!” Sarah snapped, embarrassed by her mother’s nosiness.
Lance stood in front of the large oak desk. A screensaver bounced across the computer screen. He turned and looked at Aggie. “I don’t think my personal life is any of your business.”
“Mum,” Sarah said, putting her hand on her mother’s shoulder. “We should probably get going. I don’t think we should be snooping around. What if Tiffany comes home and finds us in her house? I know I wouldn’t like it.”
Ignoring Sarah’s comment, Aggie watched as Lance turned his attention to the desk. He stared at the bouncing screensaver.
“I’m sorry,” Aggie said. “You’re right. Your relationship is none of my business. I’m just trying to help.”
Lance shrugged his shoulders again and sighed. “She runs an online dating service,” he said. “That’s where she makes her money, setting people up. They pay her to use the website to meet other people. She personally matches them up.” He chuckled nervously. “She’s so busy matching people up, yet, she won’t give up the site for me. All her time is spent talking to eligible men looking for a woman.”
Lance turned to face Aggie. “I’ve always worried that this obsession with her business of hooking people up would lead to something like this. There are a lot of crazy people online.”
“I met my husband online,” Sarah said. “It’s not that bad.”
Aggie and Lance stared at her.
“Sorry,” Sarah said, shrugging. “I was just trying to help.”
Aggie pushed past Lance and pulled out the chair from the desk. She sat down and grabbed the mouse. With a few quick movements, the screensaver disappeared. The computer pulled up a web page called Heart’s Desire. A photograph of a beautiful woman with long blonde hair was at the top right of the screen. She was dressed in a seductive red dress and blowing kisses. Red hearts emerged from her collagen filled lips and flew across the screen.
“That’s Tiffany,” Lance said.
“Oh, I see,” Aggie acknowledged. She now knew why Lance was leery of Tiffany’s career choice. Tiffany was a very beautiful woman.
Beneath Tiffany’s photo were boxes. They prompted customers to fill out the form with information about themselves, and then Tiffany would personally match them up with other singles within her database that fit their desires.
“Tiffany’s site is different from the other online dating sites because she reads the files on each of her clients, and personally talks with them about their desires and fantasies. She then hand-picks the matches. She feels a personal touch is what makes her site so popular.”
“And you don’t approve?” Aggie asked.
“I feel she gets a little too involved with some these people,” Lance said.
“What do you mean by too involved?”
Lance frowned. “I think she becomes a little too close to some of the clients. Their relationships seem to be more of a priority to her than our relationship.”
“Is her computer always left on?” Aggie asked, wondering if the website had something to do with her disappearance.
“Yes. It’s always on. She also has a separate phone line for her office. That way her business is always at her fingertips,” Lance said. “I’m going to check out the rest of the house and have a look around.”
“Maybe we should call the police,” Sarah said as soon as Lance left the room.
“No. Not yet, dear,” Aggie said while searching the drawers of the desk.
“Mum, this is creepy! We don’t know these people! And you shouldn’t be going through her things!”
“Nonsense,” Aggie said, pulling open the bottom left-hand drawer. Inside was a bunch of files in a variety of colors.
Just follow these links to learn more about Michelle.
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B004FSAF7Q
Audible Author page: https://www.audible.com/author/Michelle-Ann-Hollstein/B004FSAF7Q
Facebook Author page: https://www.facebook.com/Michelle-Ann-Hollstein-Author-Page-172084432819333
My books are available as Kindle ebooks, audiobooks and paperbacks
In honor of being interviewed, I’ve set up some FREE Kindle ebooks to share with all of you. I hope you enjoy them!
Something’s Fishy, An Aggie Underhill Mystery; Awakened Within, A Vienna Rossi Paranormal Mystery; and Book of Dreams, The Niburu Chronicles will all be available as FREE Kindle ebooks Monday, July 19th through Friday, July 23rd. Enjoy!
Billy Joel has long been a regular on my music list and his variety of songs have spanned generations. For more than fifty years, Joel has been writing and performing. He frequently has concerts at Madison Square Gardens in New York City. Nominated more than twenty times, Billy Joel has won 5 Grammy awards, was inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Kennedy Center Honors.
During his tours, it’s not uncommon for Billy to conduct a Q & A session with his audience. You can see the results of one such event in the first video.
Picking just five favorites was a challenge. But here’s my list.
NY State of Mind: https://youtu.be/htZnpnoHGgY
Keeping the Faith: https://youtu.be/ph7oZnBH05s
Only the Good Die Young. https://youtu.be/ERWREcPIoPA
We Didn’t Start the Fire: https://youtu.be/eFTLKWw542g
River of Dreams: https://youtu.be/hSq4B_zHqPM