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Monday, December 13, 2010

Murder With All The Trimmings (The Killer Wore Cranberry anthology) by Lesley A. Diehl

Title: Murder with All the Trimmings (from The Killer Wore Cranberry, anthology)
Author: Lesley A. Diehl
Release Date: Nov. 2010
Publisher: Untreed Reads

Blurb: Murder with All the Trimmings--Hate eating turkey sandwiches, turkey croquettes, turkey fricassee, just plain hate Thanksgiving leftovers?  Try serving spam instead, with a side of murder, of course.

Welcome to Sizzling Releases, Lesley. I’m so pleased you could join me today. What is your Sizzling Release? 

Today I’d like to talk about my short story, Murder with All the Trimmings just released in time for the holidays by Untreedreads.

What is Murder With All The Trimmings all about? 

My short story is about Thanksgiving past. The story is set in 1963 and features my favorite aunt, that famous, yet unknown cook, Aunt Nozzie. Her husband was done in the Thanksgiving before and she is serving up a special feast to honor him. Little does she know she will be feeding her husband’s murderer.

That sounds um, disturbing...but I like that in a book! How did you come up with the idea?

I remember holiday dinners at my aunt’s house where everyone drank cocktails before she served some unusual meal.  She was a part-time bartender and made the best Scarlet O’Haras.  She had a real mouth on her.  She was outspoken, irreverent, and funny.  I loved her and always had fun at her dinners.  That’s something many people can’t say about family holiday gatherings.  Of course, I’m sure the drinks helped the laughter along.

As a published author what advice do you have for those just beginning a career as a writer? 

There are so many ways to go into publishing your work  nowadays.  Recently The New York Times announced they would publish each week a list of ebook bestsellers.  That’s revolutionary and a sign that epublishing is here to stay, and it will grow as it has over the past few years.  Until I saw an ad for the Thanksgiving anthology from Untreedreads, I considered, then dismissed doing ework, but now that I see how well the anthology has been received (we made the bestsellers list on Amazon recently), I’m considering submitting a book length manuscript to them.  Jay Hartman at Untreed Reads does a fabulous job of getting the word out on their stories and books.

My other publishers are small presses and a joy to work with because I get a lot of individual attention from my editors.  I’m not about to give away my retirement and live on my book earnings, but I don’t have to share any of my royalties with an agent.  Anyway, the agent would starve to death!

Since the advent of ebooks and the growth of small presses, I would guess there are a lot of agents out there hungry for clients, so that’s always an option for those who are patient . . . and young.  The important thing for all writers is to write well and they will find an outlet for their work.  It took me some time to learn the craft because I am a former academic and I had to learn to write all over again for a fiction market.

 What was it like for you to write your first book and get published?

My first book was A Deadly Draught from Mainly Murder Press, a small New England press.  The editor, Judith Ivie, is very professional, very savvy, and great work with.  Also important is the contract offered by the press is quite author friendly and one cannot say that about all publishers.  I’ve seen and rejected some awful contracts.  It is hard to say no and send a contract back, but sometimes a better way to go.

My first book came out nine months ago and I’m still pinching myself.  Once the book is in your hands, then the real work begins.  I’ve become a small business owner for sure.  Writing is the fun part.  Selling is hard work, so be prepared for it.

What are you working on now? 

I’m always working on several manuscripts at a time.  If an idea strikes me for a short story as it did for the Thanksgiving story, I’ll put other writing to the side and write the story.  I have a number of manuscripts which are complete and need a publisher.  One, featuring guardian angels, is a good fit for Untreedreads and I plan to send it off soon.

Dumpster Dying  was set in rural Florida and is a humorous murder mystery.  I have another Florida manuscript about a New England gal who opens a consignment shop in rural Florida.  The shop caters to the newly poor (read Bernie Madoff folks) who wish to maintain the image of wealth.  And of course one of these matrons gets murdered in the shop.

I also am working on the second book in the microbrewery series.

Do you have an evil day job, if so, how do you find time to write?

I am retired and lucky to write whenever the muse visits which happens to be often.

What is your creative process?   

Ideas come to me from everywhere. The one for A Deadly Draught happened when I was touring a microbrewery and asked the tour guide if it was possible to kill someone in the fermentation room. I guess I just think murder a lot. The ideas I cook in my brain just long enough to get a rough outline on paper. I’m a loose plotter. I usually don’t know who the killer is until halfway through the manuscript. Sometimes I’ll change the murderer at the end.

What does your family and friends think about you being a published author? 

They are speechless, supportive, think I’m crazy, admiring, ignore me.  It depends on who they are.

It’s December again! I can’t believe Christmas is upon us all ready. What are your holiday plans? 

Dinner with my cowboy overlooking the canal in our back yard in rural Florida.  Lovely!

Do you go all out with decorating?

I did that for so many years when I spent Christmas up north that I don’t do as much now.  I still feel a little odd with no snow on the ground and holiday lights on palm trees.

Real tree or fake?

Both. Real Palm tree and fake evergreen.

Lots of lights on the house or subdued lighting?

Very subdued. We have cactus lights on our carport.

Store bought ornaments or do you make your own?

I made decorations one year and practically went blind. I gave them away as presents and haven’t looked back. Some of our decorations have been made by friends and relatives, but not by us!

Eggnog? With or without rum? 

Lots of rum, not much eggnog. I wish my Aunt Nozzie was still here to make drinks.

What would be the perfect Christmas gift for you?

A Kindle. I hope the cowboy reads this.

Thank you so much for being here. Is there anything else you’d like the readers to know?

I like funny, so I try to write humorous because it’s such fun!

And before we go here's a juicy excerpt from Murder with All the Trimmings in the Thanksgiving anthology, The Killer Wore Cranberry?   

She found the turkey with its head cut off and Harold lying beside the bird with his noggin also partly detached. I guess it was like seeing identical twins.

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