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So Long, Chester Wheeler by Catherine Ryan Hyde (Review)

5 out of 5 stars           Book Review

 

Spoiler Alert:  In order to write a formal review (which would include telling a little about this fascinating story), it would be riddled with “spoiler alert” warnings.  So I won’t.

Instead, I want to write about this author’s uncanny talent for concepts.  She writes about people, everyday people, about life, and how messy it is.  It may not be a conscious thought, but somewhere inside you, you are wondering, ‘How did she come up with this concept for a story?’ 

In my interview with Catherine, she addresses how she comes up with her stories:

Q. Where/when do you first discover your characters?

CRH. When I have finished a novel and turned it over to my agent, I know I need a new idea. I open up to a new idea, and I meet a character. I generally see a glimpse of them, having some sort of life experience. Then I spend a few weeks in my head, with nothing down on paper yet, coaxing them to tell me more. (end quote)

That’s what I tell my writers (fans); to keep their eyes and ears open because you may get a mere glimpse of your next character. Just waiting there, in the shadows,  for you, so they can tell you their story. 

But I digress.  If you have never read another book, be certain to read So Long Chester Wheeler. It’s a distillation of everything that’s so wonderful and horrid about the humane species. Beautifully written. Like Catherine examines each word to make sure it’s worthy to be in her story before she lays it down.  And, as with most of her books, there are lots of surprises, plot twists and turns the reader never sees coming. 
This author is everything we mere mortal writers should aspire to be.  Sharpen your pencils!!  

Available now at your favorite book store!

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Watch for more interviews with authors.  November:  Horror writer, Kevin J. Kennedy, December: Marc Cameron, writing for TOM CLANCY

 

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Marc Cameron ~~ Author Interview (conclusion)

Q. Do you think we will see, in our lifetime, the total demise of paper books?

MC. Not in my lifetime. Too many people I know, including me, love the feel of a physical book.

Q. What makes a writer great?

MC. I wish I knew… An ear for a good story? Insatiable curiosity? Persistence, for sure. I will say, though, that there are a lot of great stories out there that still haven’t seen the light of day for one reason or another.

Q. and the all-important: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?

MC. I start with a lot of plotting talks with my wife and adult kids, bouncing ideas and scenarios off hem. I do a lot of freewriting, exploring various plot ideas. Then I take that free writing and distill it into scenes. That goes onto a computer. Then I work through those scenes, usually in order. If I’m going fishing or camping, I’ll take pencils and paper and work on a few of the scenes while I’m away. I try to get 2,000 words a day but some days I do 1,000 and others I may do 4,000. I have a large whiteboard in my office that I use to get the big picture of the plot, POVs, and to make sure I’m writing about the correct time zone when I’m jumping from one locale to another halfway around the world—IE it can’t be morning in Boston and Beijing at the same time. I’m a detailed plotter, but I still deviate from my outline all the time. It’s a guide, not law. My wife reads everything when I’m done. I submit to my editor when I get the nod from her.

New Release Dec 6th

Q. How have your life experiences influenced your writing?

MC. I’ve been fortunate to do some interesting things, work with some stellar people, and have some incredible adventures. The nature of work with the Marshals Service might have me in New York City working a protection detail on a Supreme Court Justice or in deep in bush Alaska tracking a fugitive through the woods. Both my sons were in law enforcement for a time. One of them still is. My eldest son is a physician in the military. My daughter and my youngest son share my love of motorcycles. I’m able to pick their brains and benefit from their experiences as well as my own. The bad, even harrowing experiences like violent fights, evil people, and horrific crime scenes can’t help but inform my writing.

Q. What’s your downtime look like?

MC. There has been a lot less of that lately. I love motorcycles, boats, all things outdoors, and I love spending time with my grandkids. Teaching my grandkids about nature and tracking is one of my favorite ways to spend time. They’re inspiring and often end up in the books in one form or another.

Cook Islands

Q. Have you or do you want to write in another genre?

MC. As I mentioned, I spent a lot of times around horses and cowboys and a youngster, so when it came time to try and seriously write a novel, a Western vernacular came naturally to my pen. I wrote several while I was still with the Marshals Service. Some were ghostwritten for another author. TO HELL AND BEYOND, is a compendium of two of them are under my earlier pen name, Mark Henry.

Q. Note to Self: (a life lesson you’ve learned.)

MC. Noticing that I wasted a great deal of time being social when I had more important things to do, my freshman college theater professor took me aside and gave me some of the best advice I’ve ever heard. “Marc,” he said. “You will never amount to your full potential unless you learn to use those little fifteen-minute segments of time that most people waste.” I took him at his word—and have written a lot of books in airports, on planes, or in waiting rooms. One of the reasons, I think, why I like to write longhand.

Did you miss the Beginning?
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Watch for more interviews with authors.  October: Simon Gervais for ROBERT LUDLUM, November:  Horror writer, Kevin J. Kennedy, December: Marc Cameron, writing for TOM CLANCY

 

A few BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK

Author, Marc Cameron writing for TOM CLANCY (Interview)

TS.     Marc  Cameron had a twenty-nine-year career in law enforcement, the last twenty-two as a deputy U.S. marshal. Originally from Texas, he and his wife have made their home in Alaska for the past twenty-five years.

Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, or special space for your writing?  Or tell us about your ‘dream’ workspace.

Cook Islands

MC. I grew up on a farm and did a lot of writing under oak trees, along creek banks, and in haybarns. I traveled a lot during my career with the Marshals Service so much of my writing was on airplanes and in hotel rooms. I have a home office now. In Alaska, I often go to a cabin when I’m planning/plotting a book. My wife and I go to Rarotonga in the Cook Islands for a couple of months, most every year. A large portion of my books have been written there, on

 

a tiny island in the South Pacific surrounded by palm trees and close to the beach. The culture, the setting, the weather… It’s difficult to imagine a more idyllic place for me to write.

Q. Do you have any special rituals or quirks when you sit down to write? (a neat workspace, sharpened #2 pencils, legal pad, cup of tea, a glass of brandy, favorite pajamas, etc.)

MC.  I get up a little before six most mornings and stumble across the hall to my office. My plan each day is to sit down and write for a couple of hours before I open my emails or check in social media. I write roughly a third of each book in pencil, depending on my mood each day. I keep several notepads and a hundred or so sharpened Blackwing 602 pencils on my desk. There’s something about writing longhand that gets my brain moving in a different way. Most days, I set a timer, writing for fifty minutes then getting up and doing something physical for ten or fifteen minutes, repeating this cycle six to ten (or more) times a day.

Q. How do you ‘get inside’ Tom Clancy’s head and write for him?

New Release Dec 6th

MC. Writing the Jack Ryan’s for the Tom Clancy estate has been one of the great honors of my life. It is not something I sought out. The offer came as a complete surprise when the previous writer, Mark Greaney, recommended me. I was terrified when my agent called and said I’d been offered the gig. In fact, I told my editor, Tom Colgan, that anyone who was not terrified was probably the wrong person for the job. From the very beginning, he helped alleviate some of that fear by letting me know that he didn’t expect me to try to imitate Tom Clancy. He just wanted me to write the best Marc Cameron book I could “in the spirit of Tom Clancy.” I’ve been a Clancy reader since The Hunt for Red October so his characters are real to me. Even so, I reread all the books when I started, and continue to refer to them often to make sure I keep the characters consistent.

Q. Could you tell us something about yourself that we might not already know?

MC. I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was around eight years old, and a police officer about as along—but from middle school through my first year of college I was extremely active in theater and, for a brief period, considered trying to become an actor. I met my future wife when we were cast in a play together our freshman year of college.

Part two continues next week…
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Watch for more interviews with authors.  October: Simon Gervais for ROBERT LUDLUM, November:  Horror writer, Kevin J. Kennedy, December: Marc Cameron, writing for TOM CLANCY

 

A few BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review ~~ Miss Dauntless by Grace Burrowes

 5 out of 5 stars             Book Review

Miss Dauntless  (of the Mischief in Mayfair series) is another delight for the reader and fans of Grace Burrowes.  It turned out to be one of this reviewer’s favorites.  Charming and loveable characters are beautifully drawn.  A good plot with a big challenge for the protagonists to overcome.  Carefully constructed.  I loved this one! 

Matilda Merridew, former hoyden of the first water, finds herself widowed, weary, and in want of coin. Along comes Marcus, Lord Tremont, with an interesting–and decent–proposition. Tremont will provide Matilda a handsome salary and keep a commodious roof over her head if she will relieve him of the burden of managing a houseful of unruly former soldiers.  (amazon.com)

The Mischief in Mayfair series provides readers with independent, ‘blue-stocking’, heroines that find themselves in straitened circumstances.  But they are fearless when it comes to rescuing themselves. When one of the characters is a mischievous little boy or a darling little girl, it makes for a richer story and some laughs for sure!   I highly recommend this book and this series to my readers.  

Coming next week!  An Interview with author, Marc  Cameron, writing as Tom Clancy
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Watch for more interviews with authors.  October: Simon Gervais for ROBERT LUDLUM, November:  Horror writer, Kevin J. Kennedy, December: Marc Cameron, writing for TOM CLANCY

 

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Robert B. Parker’s FALLOUT by Mike Lupica (a review)

   5 out of 5 stars     ~~    Book Review

Mike Lupica returns to write this most current release, FALLOUT.  Another Jesse Stone true crime created by Robert B. Parker.  And it’s flawless, as usual.  Mike writes in the voice of Parker effortlessly and I really enjoyed this one. 

The small town of Paradise is devastated when a star high-school baseball player is found dead at the bottom of a bluff just a day after winning the team’s biggest game. For Jesse, the loss is doubly difficult—the teen was the nephew of his colleague, Suitcase Simpson, and Jesse had been coaching the young shortstop. As he searches for answers about how the boy died and why, he is stonewalled at every turn, and it seems that someone is determined to keep him from digging further.  (www.amazon.com)

I never cease to marvel at these authors who keep Parker’s storytelling alive for us. All successful authors in their own right.  Lupica, one of the most prominent sports writers in America,  and Reed Farrel Coleman for Jesse Stone.  Ace Atkins for Spencer and Sunny Randall. There is a  list too long to list here.  All speak with the same clarity and write as if they are Robert B. Parker incarnate. 

Check out my fascinating INTERVIEW with Mike Lupica and Ace Atkins.

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Watch for more interviews with authors.  October: Simon Gervais for ROBERT LUDLUM, November:  Horror writer, Kevin J. Kennedy, December: Marc Cameron, writing for TOM CLANCY

 

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Interview with Horror Author, Kevin Kennedy (conclusion)

Kevin out on pizza night

Q. Do you think we will see, in our lifetime, the total demise of paper books?

KK. Nope. Paperbacks have outlasted radio, tv, cd players, Netflix, and all other forms of entertainment. I am a big fan of Kindle but I still have around a thousand paperback/hardbacks.

Q. What makes a writer great?

KK. Knowing how to entertain a reader. Every author has their own style and writes in their own genre or sub-genres. No matter what you want to write, if it doesn’t entertain the reader, they will find something better to read.

Q. and the all-important: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?

KK. Stress, worry, giving up, picking it up again. Starting multiple projects in between. Writing short stories for other anthologies when I don’t have time. Getting back to it. Finally getting to an endpoint. Formatting it. Sending it out for edits then proofreading, then publishing it.

Q. How have your life experiences influenced your writing?

KK. Writing has to feel real and I’m not one for spending hours researching things so I tend to write about stuff I know about. I may warp the experience and change it but I will be knowledgeable about it.

Q. What’s your downtime look like?

KK. Downtime? Na, I tend to chill with my wife, go out for lunch or dinner, snuggle up with my cats and watch something on Netflix. Visit my mum or take her out shopping. I live a quite life now and I like it that way.

Q. Have you or do you want to write in another genre?

KK. Pretty much Horror or Bizarro. I occasionally slip into gangster type crime with a horror element.

Q. Note to Self: (a life lesson you’ve learned.)

A. Do what works for you. The best advice might not suit you personally. Read the guidelines to wherever you are going to sub. Editors often ignore anything that falls outside of the guidelines for subs. Don’t wait on a response before starting something new. Keep working, keep sending your work out, and remember, it’s supposed to be fun. Don’t take rejections too personally. Re-sub it somewhere else. What one person doesn’t like, another may enjoy.

Did you miss the beginning of this Interview?

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Watch for more interviews with authors.  October: Simon Gervais for ROBERT LUDLUM, November:  Horror writer, Kevin J. Kennedy, December: Marc Cameron, writing for TOM CLANCY

 

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Interview with author, Kevin Kennedy (part 2)

At my desk

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

KK. That’s a tough one. I suffer from it myself. I’d say, just write when you can. Try not to plan too much in as it becomes overwhelming. Don’t force a word count every day if it’s not coming. You will just feel worse. Stick to what works for you.

Q. Where/when do you first discover your characters?

KK. It tends to be an overall story idea or plot idea I have and then I work out what type of character would fit the story best. It’s rare a fully developed character comes to me. They often grow as I write.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

KK. I was always a big reader but never thought about writing. If I hadn’t seen an advert on Facebook looking for stories, I don’t think I would have ever looked into it. There was no urge. It just grew organically, and now I run a publishing company that puts out chart toppers, and I get invited to participate in invite-only projects regularly. I don’t think I could ever walk away from it now.

Q. What comes first to you? The Characters or the Situation?

KK. Situation. I will often have an urge to write a certain type of story or even just a scene and then everything builds around it.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

KK. Sometimes but due to a hectic life, I often only have small spaces to fit it in. It’s not the best way to work but life takes over. I still work full time for a charity that helps people into employment and I have a family so writing comes third.

with friend, Dacre

Q. What compelled you to choose and settle on the genre you now write in?

KK. It was easy. I only read horror so it was horror I started writing.

Q. Are you working on something now or have a new release coming up? If so tell us about it.

KK. A few things. I wrote a novella called Halloween Land. I’m halfway through writing a prequel, The Clown. She was a favorite character of the readers and I wanted to write more about her anyway. I am also close to finishing my 4th collection of short stories called The A to Z of Horror. I have an upcoming anthology releasing in December called The Horror Collection Sapphire Edition. It’s the 13th book in the series. It’s been pretty popular.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

KK. Probably about 5 years ago when I started to see sales picking up.
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Did you miss the beginning of the interview

Join us for the conclusion next week.
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Watch for more interviews with authors.  October: Simon Gervais for ROBERT LUDLUM, November:  Horror writer, Kevin J. Kennedy, December: Marc Cameron, writing for TOM CLANCY

 

A few BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK

 

 

Interview with Horror author, Kevin Kennedy

 Kevin J. Kennedy is a horror author, editor, and anthologist. He is also the owner of KJK Publishing.
He lives in the heart of Scotland with his wife and his three cats, Carlito, Ariel and Luna. He can be found on Facebook most days if you want to chat with him.

Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, or special space for your writing? 

KK. I tend to work where I can. Often on the couch or in bed. I do have a desk, but you rarely find me there.

Q. Do you have any special rituals or quirks when you sit down to write? (a neat workspace, sharpened #2 pencils, legal pad, cup of tea, a glass of brandy, favorite pajamas, etc.)

KK. Nope. Up until recently, I done most of my writing on an old broken laptop. I recently got a new Chromebook but I am finding it difficult to get used to it. You can only use Word online which is different to Word on my old laptop.

Q. Could you tell us something about yourself that we might not already know?

KK. I only began writing about 7 years ago. Most of the time, writers always seem to have been involved in one way or another. I sort of stumbled into it after seeing an advert for stories on Facebook and deciding I’d give it a go. I feel I have been lucky in how well everything has gone in such a short space of time.

Q. What tools do you begin with? Legal pad, spiral notebook, pencils, fountain pen, or do you go right to your keyboard?

KK. Straight onto the keyboard, often with no real planning. Just an idea and see where it goes. I’m more of a fly by the seat of my pants type of guy. I rarely plan anything out and I find I work better under pressure.

Q. Do you have pets? Tell us about them and their names. 

KK. Three. Carlito and Ariel are brother and sister cats. Both ten years old. Carlito is jet black. Ariel is a tabby. We also have a little Calico called Luna who is now 2 years old. They rarely leave my side.

Q. Do you enjoy writing in other forms (playwriting, poetry, short stories, etc.)?
If yes, tell us about it.

KK. I have written mainly short stories with a few novellas. I still haven’t written a novel. I’m not sure I will. I prefer reading novellas so I imagine I will stick to writing them. I have co-written a few as well. Over the last few years I have written several poems that have been picked up but it will remain a once in a while thing and I love drabbles. I’ve written loads of

Carlito

drabbles (100 word stories.) I also fee that my 4 book series, 100 Word Horrors was the main instigator in the drabble craze in the horror market. I’ve stepped away from publishing that type of anthology now as I feel there is just too many coming out but I still sub to other publishers Anthos.

Watch for part 2 of this wonderful interview next week. 
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Watch for more interviews with authors.  October: Simon Gervais for ROBERT LUDLUM, November:  Horror writer, Kevin J. Kennedy, December: Marc Cameron, writing for TOM CLANCY

 

A few BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK

 

 

Interview with Simon Gervais, writing for Robert Ludlum (part 2)

Q. What first inspired you to write?

SG. I’ve always been a reader. I used to read at least thirty books per year. When I started writing in 2014, there weren’t many authors with a background like mine. I sometimes felt that the action scenes written by some of these authors—although fun to read—weren’t realistic. I naively believed that I could easily do better. It didn’t take long for me to realize how difficult it was to write a novel…

Q. What comes first to you? The Characters or the Situation?

SG. Usually, the plot comes to me first. Then the characters.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

SG. Not really…But I can lose track of time when I write. I often write for 16 to 18 hours in a row in the weeks before my deadline.

Q. What compelled you to choose and settle on the genre you now write in?

With his writing buddy, Louna

SG. This is what I know. This is what I used to do for a living. I’d have a hard time writing science fiction or romance novels.

Q. Are you working on something now or have a new release coming up? If so tell us about it.

SG. I’m presently working on THE LAST GUARDIAN, which will be published in October 2023, and then I’ll start on BLACKBRIAR #2, the second book I’m writing for the Robert Ludlum estate.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

SG. When I left the RCMP.

Q. Do you think we will see, in our lifetime, the total demise of paper books?

SG. Absolutely not!

Q. What makes a writer great?

SG. Somebody who, while I’m reading his/her book, can give me a solid 6 to 8 hours of pure entertainment.

Q. and the all-important: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?

SG. My process is to first write a 4,000- to 5,000-word outline. The outline can take me months to write. This is usually when I’ll go on a research trip or two. Then I write the book, which can take me between 45 and 90 days to do. I then submit the manuscript to my editor—rarely with no more than five minutes to spare before my deadline!! We then go through a few rounds of developmental and copy edits before the book moves to the publicity and marketing departments. I then start the outline for my next book on contract.

Q. How have your life experiences influenced your writing?

SG. Yes, they certainly did. I think my life experiences are my most important assets as a writer. Having served in the military as an infantry officer and then as a federal agent, my work experience gives me the necessary credibility to write in this genre.

Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu in Charlevoix. on the St Lawrence River.

Q. What’s your downtime look like?

SG. We spend most of our weekends during the school year at our cottage in Mont-Tremblant. I enjoy skiing, mountain biking and hiking with my family. We travel a lot, too. We’ll spend several weeks in the Bahamas, but we’ll also go to Europe at least once or twice for a couple of weeks. Our family also enjoys yachting.

Q. Have you or do you want to write in another genre?

SG. No, and I don’t think I could pull it off.

Q. Note to Self: (a life lesson you’ve learned.)

SG. Failure and adversity are the greatest teachers.
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To find more of Simon Gervais’ books, click here
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Interview with NY Times Best Selling author, Simon Gervais

Simon Gervais is a former infantry officer and federal agent. He spent twenty years in the military and in law enforcement, specializing in protective operations and counterterrorism. His assignments took him all over Europe and the Middle East. He left the RCMP in 2014 to pursue writing full-time.
Several of his books are listed on the New York Times Best Seller List (Hunt Them Down, Trained To Hunt, and Time To Hunt) and he is Amazon’s #1 bestselling author. His new Clayton White series was published in November 2021. (The Last Protector). Quickly followed by The Last Sentinel and The Last Guardian.
“I had the immense honor to be chosen by G.P. Putnam’s Sons and the estate of Robert Ludlum to write a new series within the illustrious Jason Bourne universe.” The first book in the series Robert Ludlum’s The Blackbriar Genesis will be released next month. A sequel is planned for next year.
Simon lives in Ottawa, Canada with his wife and two children He is an avid skier, diver, and boating enthusiast.

Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, or special space for your writing? (please provide a photo of you at work in your shed, room, closet, barn, or houseboat….) Or tell us about your ‘dream’ workspace.

SG. Although I can write pretty much anywhere when I’m facing a deadline, there are indeed a few special places where it feels good to

write. This is at our ski cottage in Mont-Tremblant. The main living room, with its two-story high stone fireplace and humongous windows with direct views on the mountains, is grandiose. It’s by far my favorite room in the house. It just feels right. And that’s especially true during the fall and winter season. The second is on the terrace of our beach house in the Bahamas. There’s something very special about writing a novel while enjoying the ocean breeze.

Q. Do you have any special rituals or quirks when you sit down to write? (a neat workspace, sharpened #2 pencils, legal pad, cup of tea, a glass of brandy, favorite pajamas, etc.)

SG. I do! To the absolute delight of my wife, there’s no way I can start writing before the kitchen is perfectly clean and the dishwasher is emptied out. I don’t know why … But that’s the way it is!

Q. Could you tell us something about yourself that we might not already know?

In the waters off the Virgin Islands

SG. I’m a certified open water diver. I love the freedom it gives me. I did my certification in Saint John, USVI, while researching my upcoming book THE LAST GUARDIAN, the 3rd book in my Clayton White series. For those of my readers that don’t know what an open water diver is….  it means that we’re allowed to pan and to execute dives anywhere in the world up to a depth of 60 feet—though we can go deeper with a certified instructor. My personal deepest dive was at a depth of 80 ft in the USVI. Diving is similar to driving a car or piloting a plane, you must receive training and get certified in order to be allowed to do it. An Open Water Certification involves approximately 15 to 20 hours of theory, a written exam, a swim test, 5 confined water dive, and 4 open water dives with an instructor. 

Q. What tools do you begin with? Legal pad, spiral notebook, pencils, fountain pen, or do you go right to your keyboard?

SG. I only use my laptop. I do take a few notes on my phone if I have an idea for a plot twist while I’m away from my computer, but that’s pretty much it.

Q. Do you enjoy writing in other forms (playwriting, poetry, short stories, etc.)?
If yes, tell us about it.

SG. I don’t. Now that I’m writing two books per year—one for the Robert Ludlum estate at Putnam and another for Thomas & Mercer—I simply don’t have the time to do anything else when it comes to writing.

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

SG. Be on contract to write two books per year! You’ll have very little time to procrastinate…

The conclusion next week. Don’t miss it!
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Watch for more interviews with authors.  September: Culley Holderfield. October: Simon Gervais for ROBERT LUDLUM, November: Kevin J. Kennedy, December: Marc Cameron, writing for TOM CLANCY

BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK