Good Monday morning mighty Blogosphere. It’s decidedly fall-like outside, and with the cooler temperatures and school buses rattling past my front window, there is a tremendous sense of excitement brewing. Beginning last week, guest bloggers have been dropping by to share their work and insights. This week, we continue. Today’s guest, Debbie De Louise, is a multi-published author, catwoman, and library scientist. Check out what she has to say about A STONE’S THROW, the future of paper, and her exciting work-in-progress. Welcome, Debbie…
You are an award winning writer with a third book releasing through Solstice Publishing. Trace your career for us with an anecdote or two.
After I self-published my first book, “Cloudy Rainbow,” I tried writing another but gave up. I didn’t have any experience promoting books at that time and had no network of professional contacts. Everyone in my family bought the book, of course, but it didn’t sell well otherwise. Since my daughter was young at the time, I decided it was a good time to take a break from writing.
I probably would not have written another book except for three things that happened years later. The first was that a patron at the library where I work kept asking if I was writing something else. She had read and enjoyed my first novel and urged me not to give up. This went on for some time, but then my library began to offer online classes through a database called Gale Courses. All the librarians were encouraged to enroll in one of the classes before we advertised the database to the public. Since Gale Courses included quite a few publishing classes, I enrolled in one. I got hooked and kept taking classes. Then I started writing articles and short stories again. I began sending out my work. I received rejections for the stories, but some of the articles were published online and in my local newspaper.
As I kept writing, I came up with more ideas. One of them grew into my second novel, “A Stone’s Throw”. Although I received some initial rejections for the manuscript, I took a chance and participated in an online twitter event called Pit2Pub where authors could tweet a pitch to publishers. I received several responses to my pitch and was offered a contract by Limitless Publishing. A year later, I pitched another book at this same event and was signed with Solstice Publishing.
We have Sisters in Crime in common. What came first for you: crime writing or your Sisters’ membership?
I don’t consider myself exclusively a crime writer. My books usually feature both mystery and romance. I joined Sisters-in-Crime recently because I wanted to belong to a professional organization of mystery authors for contacts and networking opportunities. I also plan to join the International Thriller Writers after my book with Solstice is published.
As a librarian, what kind of future do you see for paper-bound books in the digital age? Will libraries become museum pieces?
I don’t think digital books will replace physical books anytime soon. Patrons at my library still request physical books and indicate that, even though some of them have e-readers, they still prefer books in a physical format. I, myself, feel that way. While I appreciate the availability of the written word in various formats and own a Kindle Fire, I still return to the traditional format of paperback or hardcover books. My daughter who is of the generation that grew up with computers and is constantly on different electronic devices also still enjoys reading physical books.
Regarding libraries becoming antiquated, it’s true they are changing, but I don’t see them disappearing soon either. Libraries play much more of a role in society than places to borrow books and other materials. They are community centers featuring a variety of programs from defensive driving courses to cooking and exercise classes. Our library hosts a literacy group for adults learning English as a Second Language, and we also recently started a writer’s club in addition to open poetry nights and a memoir writing class. Children and YA programs are popular, and we loan free passes to local museums. Through Overdrive and subscription databases, we also extend the “walls” of the library into the homes of our patrons.
Comparing journal articles, short stories and novels is tantamount to comparing apples and oranges and… heroically sized watermelons, but I’ll ask you to try. As a crafter of all three, do you favor one method of expression over another?
There are pluses and minuses to each type of writing, but I believe they are all connected in certain ways. Novel writing is extremely time-consuming but can be more rewarding because the product you produce is one that allows for full creative expression and the opportunity to receive recognition and acclaim (and eventually some profit). Article-writing is factual and requires research without the added imaginative spark. However, unless you’re writing scholarly articles, there’s always room for creative ways to present research. Blog posts are a perfect example of this. Also, even with novels and short stories, some factual research is necessary to lend realism to the writing.
I truly can’t say which type of writing I prefer because I like them all and enjoy doing each as a change from the other. It’s like an artist working in different mediums. It gives you a chance to develop skills in other areas. Another plus is that you can occasionally use something you’ve written in one type of writing in another. For instance, short story themes can be expanded into novels. Information from articles can be used in short stories and novels.
We also have kitties in common so I have to ask about the Cat Writer’s Association. Where do we sign up?
Just check out their website www.catwriters.com. There’s an application form there that gives information on how to join. It’s a great organization, and I have been a member for many years.
Tell us about your new release.
My upcoming mystery novel that I just signed with Solstice, “Between a Rock and a Hard Place” (tentative title) can be read as a standalone or sequel to my novel “A Stone’s Throw” that was published last November. I don’t want to give too much away about it except to say that it features kidnapping, burglary, and murder. Some of the characters from “A Stone’s Throw” are in it and some new characters are introduced. It takes place in the same small, upstate fictional town of Cobble Cove, New York near the holidays and there are some scenes in New York City, too. I consider it a mystery, but it features many cozy elements and no explicit violence.
And the WIP?
I’m very excited about my WIP because it’s totally different from my previous books. I usually write in third person but, in this book, I alternate chapters between first and third person. Most of the narrative is told by the main character, but I do include some other “voices.” The action also alternates from the present time to incidents that occurred twenty years before. While this book features a mystery, I consider it a psychological thriller. It deals with a variety of topics including alcoholism and mental illness Again, I can’t go into detail, but I’m hoping to begin querying it sometime in the fall to agents as well as publishers.
Let’s finish with a library anecdote: humorous, spooky or both.
Lots of funny things happen in the library. My co-workers all say that we could write a book about them, but I can’t think of anything specific right now, so I’ll share a romantic anecdote instead. I actually met my husband when I first started working at the library. He was teaching computer classes there in the early days when there was a big demand for them. We still offer computer classes, but they are now given by our computer support technicians. Anthony was not an employee. He gave the classes in the evenings, and I took one. No one knew we began “seeing” one another until we were announced we were engaged. My co-workers threw an engagement party for us in the library’s community room and many attended the wedding. That was 24 years ago, and I am still working at the library and married to Anthony.
A STONE’S THROW
Widowed librarian Alicia Fairmont needs answers…
After her husband is killed in a hit and run accident, Alicia travels upstate to his hometown of Cobble Cove, New York, hoping to locate his estranged family and shed light on his mysterious past. Anticipating staying only a weekend, her visit is extended when she accepts a job at the town’s library.
Secrets stretch decades into the past…
Assisted by handsome newspaper publisher and aspiring novelist, John McKinney, Alicia discovers a connection between her absent in-laws and a secret John’s father has kept for over sixty years. But her investigation is interrupted when she receives word her house has burned and arson is suspected, sending her rushing back to Long Island, accompanied by John.
Back in Cobble Cove, cryptic clues are uncovered…
When Alicia returns, she finds a strange diary, confiscated letters, and a digital audio device containing a recording made the day her husband was killed. Anonymous notes warn Alicia to leave town, but she can’t turn her back on the mystery—or her attraction to John.
As the pieces begin to fall into place, evidence points to John’s involvement in her husband’s accident. The past and present threaten to collide, and Alicia confronts her fears…
Has she fallen in love with her husband’s killer?
After Alicia unpacked her things, heated up Sheila’s stew that turned out to be quite tasty, and changed into pajamas, she lay in bed with a book, but she couldn’t concentrate on her reading. She turned off the light and tried to sleep, but the heavy rain against the window kept her up, as did the loud purring of Sneaky Cat, who snuggled against her, happy to have company again. She thought about Tina, the girl who’d stayed here last. From what Alicia knew of her, Tina was a young library school graduate who’d been hired by Sheila as quickly as Alicia had. She’d lived over the library in this space, as well, taken care of Sneaky, and left after a year and a half to care for her sick mother in Florida.
Sneaky dug his paws into the quilt at her back. It had been a long time since she’d had a cat, but she recalled the kneading sensation both male and female cats practiced to comfort themselves. Maybe it would comfort her too. Had she done the right thing by returning to Cobble Cove? Would she be bored in this small town with only a hand full of people patronizing the library each day? Sheila had mentioned the large number of homebound patrons, the seniors of the town, who needed books delivered. She might enjoy that. She liked reader’s advisory work, selecting books that would interest people. Sometimes it was a challenge, but she always learned through the experience and even found new authors and books for herself.
After a few hours of restlessness, Sneaky finally got sick of her tossing and left the room. She felt strangely deserted. She decided it might be better to get up and do something than spend unproductive time in bed. She turned on the light and went out into the hall. All was quiet from downstairs except the continuous downpour. She didn’t plan to go into the library, but she considered checking some of the unprocessed books Sheila had mentioned Mac was working on in the storage room. Perhaps she’d find something more interesting than her current reading that could help her fall asleep.
When she entered the storage room, she didn’t see Sneaky, although she thought he might’ve headed there to use his litter box. Cats can be quiet and liked to sleep in the strangest spots, so he could be there in some corner. Mac’s jacket was still draped across the chair by the desk. She laughed recalling the story about what Sneaky had once done to it out of spite, so typical of an angered cat. She sat in the chair and perused the stack of books on the desk. A few were from James Patterson’s “Private” series. She didn’t read too many series and had only read a few of Patterson’s standalone titles. As she was about to choose a book from the pile, she heard scratching in the corner. She jumped. Hopefully, that was Sneaky and not a mouse he hadn’t caught, for this place probably attracted them. She walked cautiously to the corner where she’d heard the noise. It wasn’t coming from the litter box under the window but from the opposite side.
Since the one bulb in the room was dim, she could hardly see in the dark recesses of the room. She wished she had a flashlight. As she approached the area where she heard the noise, she saw a bunch of boxes. She was relieved to see Sneaky scratching the side of one, cardboard pieces scattered at his feet. “Oh, Sneaky,” she said. “You scared me, but you’re only using a box for a scratching post.” The cat, caught in the act, stopped in mid-scratch and scampered away through his cat flap. Alicia made a note to speak to John about helping her find a real scratching post for Sneaky,. but before she left the room, she went over to the boxes. She figured they contained more books, but when she looked inside the one Sneaky had been scratching, she saw a few papers bundled together with rope. Newspapers? They weren’t that thick. She realized as she picked up the first bundle, they were a stack of letters. She felt uneasy snooping through them and was about to toss them next to the other two stacks in the box when she caught the name on the top envelope, Miss Carol Parsons. Her heart thudded in tempo with the rain. Were these the letters Mac wrote to Peter’s mother all those years ago? If so, how had Mac gotten them back?
About the Author
Debbie De Louise is a reference librarian at a public library on Long Island. Her first novel, “Cloudy Rainbow,” received an honorable mention in the Writer’s Digest self-published awards. Her mystery novel, “A Stone’s Throw” was published November 2015 by Limitless Publishing. The sequel, tentatively titled “Between a Rock and a Hard Place,” is currently contracted with Solstice Publishing. Debbie was awarded the Lawrence C. Lobaugh Memorial Award in Journalism from Long Island University/C.W. Post where she earned a B.A. in English and a M.L.S. in Library Science. A member of Sisters in Crime and the Cat Writer’s Association, she has published articles in several pet publications and journals. Her Catster.com article, “Brush Your Cat for Bonding, Beauty, and Better Health,” won a special award from Hartz Corporation. Her short mystery, “Stitches in Time” was published in the Cat Crimes Through Time Anthology. She lives on Long Island with her husband, daughter, and two cats and is currently working on a standalone psychological thriller.
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Debbie-De-Louise/e/B0144ZGXPW/
Website/Blog/Newsletter Sign-Up: https://debbiedelouise.wordpress.com
Here are some teasers for a Stone’s Throw and its buy links:
Buy links for A STONE’S THROW:
Amazon U.S.: KINDLE: http://amzn.to/1MjaJgN
Amazon Australia: http://bit.ly/1Sdh82D
Amazon Canada: http://amzn.to/1SdheHi
Amazon U.K.: http://amzn.to/1QutXBW
Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/1nQPyv4
Also available on iTunes and Ingram
Thanks for dropping by, Debbie. We wish you well and look forward to that new release! — ABF
TOMORROW: Novelist, blogger and graphic designer Marie Lavender.